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The Hare and the Tortoise, The Fables of Aesop, Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), Source: The Bewick Society

Advantages of Confidence and Dangers of Overconfidence

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

Confidence can be a useful quality for leaders to demonstrate when they wish to gain stature, credibility and influence. But what happens when a leader acts overconfidently? The past is overpopulated with overconfident leaders who have led their companies to disaster. Finding the balance between leveraging the benefits of acting confidently and avoiding the dangers of overconfidence is crucial. This Idea explores how to do so.

Idea #118
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Beware of Egocentricity Causing Team Members to Overestimate their Value

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

A new study confirms that individuals typically (but not intentionally) overestimate their contributions to team projects, especially if the teams are large. Managers trying to gauge the contribution of different team members — for reward or other purposes — should recognize when over-claiming is more likely, and use different strategies to remind individuals of the contributions of others.

Idea #615
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Chief Information Officers: Secrets to Success

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

A valuable learning tool for CIOs, this Idea draws upon the successes and experiences of 14 extraordinary Chief Information Officers from organizations including FedEx, Cisco, Time Warner and the US Department of Defence. Cross-referencing both personal characteristics and environmental factors universal to all 14 we can define and determine the skills needed to excel in this role.

Idea #069
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 ENRON, 2010, Written by Lucy Prebble, Royal Court Theatre, London

Corporate Scandals: Causes and Cures

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

US corporate scandals plagued the early 2000s, with Enron, Tyco, and WorldCom becoming notorious. The 2008 financial crisis bred Libor rate-fixing and other cases of serious misconduct. Loss-hiding at Japan’s Olympus Corporation was exposed in 2011. In 2013 Shell, BP, Statoil and others came under investigation by the EU Commission for supposed oil price rigging. Fined, sued, disgraced and sometimes collapsed the consequences for organizations can be dire. What preventive measures should be put in place to ensure organizations do not fall prey to such outcomes? 

Idea #085
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The Mad Hatter's Teaparty, illustration by John Teniel for Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland 1895

Deferring to Others: When Able People Prefer Lower Status

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

Why do some able people opt for positions of lower status, though they may actually desire the respect associated with higher status? According to this Idea, others’ expectations are a key driver of the status individuals opt for in group settings. If they believe that they lack the characteristics to help a group succeed, they will opt for lower status in that group.  

Idea #287
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1940's advert for Mum antiperspirant (Source: The Smithsonian.com)

Ethical Lapses in Negotiations – A Male Tendency

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

Do women act more ethically than men? According to this Idea, yes they do, particularly during negotiations; men tend to be more pragmatic in their ethical reasoning at the bargaining table than women, especially when they feel like their masculinity is being threatened. 

Idea #210
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Female Directors Create Corporate Sustainability

Idea posted: March 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Recent research and management thinking often stresses that diversity, especially gender diversity, is a critical factor in improving the quality of a company’s leadership and decision-making. But could it also impact the overall financial, environmental, and social impact of an organization as well?  

Idea #105
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Stephen Fry and Hugh Lawrie as ‘Jeeves and Wooster’ a 1990s British TV adaptation by Clive Exton from P.G. Wodehouse's ‘Jeeves’ stories. The series was a collaboration between Brian Eastman of Picture Partnership Productions and Granada Television

How Dominant Personality Trumps Competence in Teams

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

Individuals that display higher levels of dominance within a group also attain higher levels of influence. Through two studies, the authors demonstrate how displaying certain behaviours can make a person appear to be more competent that they may in fact be. This perception in turn leads to greater, but perhaps unjustified, influence within a group.

Idea #038
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How Formal Mentoring Affects Workplace Networks

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

How do widespread organizational practices like formal mentoring affect employee networking? According to this Idea, formal mentoring programs could provide boosts in visibility, increasing participants’ attractiveness as network partners. However, these benefits seem to arise more for women than men. 

Idea #199
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How Political Correctness Increases Creativity in Mixed-Sex Teams

Idea posted: April 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Creativity can suffer in mixed-sex teams. Men and women both experience uncertainty when asked to generate ideas as members of a mixed-sex work group: men because they may fear offending the women and women because they fear having their ideas devalued or rejected. Being PC helps men and women become more creative. 

Idea #505
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Kenya's Faith Chemaoi crosses the finishing line of the 2014 Paris Marathon (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How Reference Points Motivate Us

Idea posted: June 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Reference-dependent theories state that individuals evaluate outcomes as gains or losses, depending on a neutral reference point. Making 19 sales in a month is a loss when the goal — the reference point — was 20 sales a month. Data from 10 million marathon finishes provides a field test that confirms the behavioural expectations and implications of these theories, shedding a light on how milestone goals can push individuals to higher performance.

Idea #394
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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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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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Keep Mum She's Not So Dumb: Careless Talk Costs Lives', WW II poster (detail), Harold Foster, 1941

Political Correctness Helps Expression in Mixed-Sex Teams

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

In recent years, speaking in a ‘politically correct’ way has been criticised by many as excessive restriction on the freedom of speech. What was initiated as a positive way to minimize offence, had been taken too far and had come to be viewed negatively. But now, research demonstrates that in organizational settings, and in mixed-sex groups in particular, being politically correct is still a very positive step that can go far to facilitate better team work.

Idea #147
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Early morning water circuit training session at Pope Army Airfield, N.C., 2015 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Psychology-based Training Incentives Motivates Workers

Idea posted: April 2015
  • Learning & Behaviour

A one-time financial incentive based on proven psychological techniques can motivate employees to voluntarily make a commitment to long-term training, new research shows. 

Idea #510
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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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Search Engine Marketing: Does it Pay?

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

Spending on search advertising has skyrocketed in recent years. But experiments conducted by researchers from UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago and eBay Research Labs suggest paid search may not be as effective as is thought. Particularly in the case of well-known brands, it seems it has little or no effect on sales as, in its absence, loyal customers will find other channels to visit the company’s website anyway.

Idea #309
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Pedestrians in Toronto, 2013 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Serving a Few Major Customers Vs Many Diverse Customers

Idea posted: August 2016
  • Operations

Contrary to the accepted wisdom, manufacturers with a small number of major customers benefit from collaborative practices that lead to less demand uncertainty and greater inventory efficiencies. Manufacturers with a large number of disparate customers are the ones who must keep higher inventory level for longer periods of time, resulting in more inventory write-downs and reversals.

Idea #619
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Cleopatra, John W. Waterhouse, 1888 (Source: Wikimedia)

The Effect of Feminine Charm in Negotiations

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

Can friendliness and flirtation help women in negotiations? Apparently so, according to this Idea, but only when balanced and when these behaviours do not undermine professional intent. By looking at the effects of each of these behaviours individually, as well as in combination, the key seems to lie in the perfect mix of friendliness and flirtation — otherwise known as feminine charm. 

Idea #090
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Ronald McDonald, Delft, Netherlands, 2005. Photo: M.Minderhoud (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Power of Colour in Marketing

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing

Seeing red and yellow together is likely to make you think of McDonalds, according to this Idea. Such is the power of colours on brand recognition and long-term storage of advertisement information. Certain colours in particular are more stimulating than others, and marketing executives can use this information to build stronger advertising campaigns.

Idea #201
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Who We Call and Why in Uncertain Situations

Idea posted: July 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

When facing uncertain situations of threat or opportunity, people will call on their contacts to help them meet the threat or take advantage of the opportunity. New research shows that how many contacts they call can be influenced by such factors as their rank in the organization, whether they have an internal or external locus of control, and the type of threat or opportunity that the uncertainty represents.

Idea #529
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