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Eratosthenes Teaching in Alexandria, by Bernardo Strozzi, 1635 (Courtesy: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts)

Algorithms and Statistical Models Vs Human Judgement

Idea posted: July 2017
  • Learning & Behaviour

For businesses frustrated by algorithm aversion — the tendency of people to reject forecasts based on algorithms and statistical models in favour of less dependable human judgement — there is hope: a new study shows that people will choose to use algorithms if they can modify them, even slightly.

Idea #664
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Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, 2004, directed by Adam McKay, starring Will Ferrell. Also also written by Ferrell and McKay. Distributed by  DreamWorks Pictures

Balancing Extravert Leaders and Pro-active Employees

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

Despite both being characteristics which are promoted in many organizations, leadership extraversion and employee proactivity are uneasy bedfellows. This research suggests that extraverted leaders are less receptive to proactivity, and that they may only enhance group performance when employees are passive. 

Idea #006
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Beating Bias through Mindfulness Meditation

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

Mindfulness meditation, the practice of clearing one’s mind of all other thoughts but the ‘present moment’, partly by focusing on the physical sensation of breathing, has long been associated with personal feelings of ‘wellbeing’ and positivity. But it has wider, more practical, benefits. New research suggests that leaders who use the technique are more likely to be resistant to the decision-making curse of ‘sunk cost bias’ — and, consequently, more likely to create value.

Idea #225
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 A typical "As seen on TV" logo present on many products in the US (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Brand Placement on TV: The Positive Impact of Fast-forwarding

Idea posted: March 2014
  • Marketing

Placing brands with different ‘personalities’ next to each other, as in a block of ads during a TV commercial break, impacts how consumers view the brands, new research shows. For example, a safe, efficient product seems like a more exciting choice simply because its ad followed the advertisement for another product that emphasizes excitement and adventure. But this brand-pairing effect only happens when consumers are not paying too much attention to either brand… as when they’re fast-forwarding through the commercials of a taped TV show.  

Idea #347
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Buyers of Experiential Products and Consumer Reviews

Idea posted: September 2015
  • Marketing

Shoppers find consumer reviews to be less useful, and are less likely to seek out such reviews, for experiential purchases (events to be lived through such as vacation packages) than for material products (objects to keep such as electronics). 

Idea #546
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Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

Can Leaders Be Too Smart?

Idea posted: April 2018
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Can leaders be too smart? A recent study offers a surprising answer: up to a certain point, the smarter you are, the more effective you are as a leader. But being too smart can actually reduce how effective you are perceived— in large part because you lose touch with your subordinates. 

Idea #696
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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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Thumbs Up Ballet in a field choreography of Stars in my Eyes, Quebec, 1944 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Does Employee Satisfaction Improve Company Value? It Depends...

Idea posted: January 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

Recent studies of U.S. companies have shown that increased employee satisfaction is linked to higher value for the firm. But what about companies in other countries? A new study shows that the U.S. results are replicated only in countries that have levels of labour flexibility (ease of hiring and firing) similar to the U.S. Companies in countries with low labour flexibility show a more limited benefit from employee satisfaction.

Idea #478
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The Board Game, Magdelena Giesek, 2010. View her work at www.giesek.com

Gamification and Games at Work that Work

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

Employers are using gamification — the introduction of games in the workplace — to make work more enjoyable and ‘fun’, and hopefully improving, in the process, employee engagement and motivation. But mandated fun is considered no fun at all, unless employees consent to the game. Without consent, new research shows, the gamification attempt will backfire; with consent, gamification will engage employees even though the essential core task has not changed.

Idea #228
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1957 Oldsmobile Starfire 98 Coupe, detail from advert in Life Magazine April 1957

How Customers Watch What Others Buy

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Marketing

While consumers (and the marketers who market to them) believe that purchasing decisions are based on a combination of emotional and rational factors, a research team from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania identify a more basic motivation that pushes people to buy: they look at what others around them are buying. 

Idea #223
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Chinese New Year, Dragon Walk, Hong Kong (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

How Landmarks in Time Help Employees Set Aspirational Goals

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Temporal landmarks — such as the first day of the year, a milestone birthday or the completion of a major project — can spark an attitude of renewed optimism in people that motivates them to seek out and achieve aspirational goals. Managers should take advantage of temporal landmarks to bolster employee development and achievement.

Idea #416
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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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Is New Product Exclusivity Always a Good Idea?

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Marketing

Having exclusive sales or distribution rights to a new product may sound like a good deal. New research shows, however, that exclusivity can reduce profits, especially if the firm does not have locked-in loyal customers, because it eliminates the potential for greater word-of-mouth marketing. 

Idea #312
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Leadership to Reconcile Team Diversity or Conflict

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

A diverse team can achieve great things. But diversity can sometimes lead to conflict too. The effects of team diversity on team outcomes vary considerably from study to study. This Idea digs deeper, investigating the effects of ‘values diversity’ on team effectiveness – and how leaders can play a significant controlling role in the relationship between values diversity and conflict within a team. 

Idea #042
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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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Script the Change, Then Make It Happen

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

Change initiatives often fail for a reason that may seem obvious in retrospect but is often overlooked: no clear and detailed vision of a future with the change in place. What is the new environment? Who is doing what? Writing a movie script of the change — starting with the ideal future then imagining the story of how that change can be achieved — inspires and guides the change initiative, injects creativity into the change process, and reveals inconsistencies and challenges that can block successful implementation.

Idea #113
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Self-Reflective Job Titles Reduce Emotional Exhaustion

Idea posted: January 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour

Allowing employees to give themselves self-reflective job titles — the title of Berkshire Hathaway’s event organizer is Director of Chaos, for example — helps them affirm their identity and, even in the most stressful of jobs, reduce emotional exhaustion. The result is less staff turnover, better teamwork, and higher performance.

Idea #305
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Noah's Ark, Cameo by Allessandro Masnago who worked in Milan around 1600 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Severe Weather: Moderating Its Impact on Productivity

Idea posted: June 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Operations

As the extreme temperatures and violent storms caused by climate change continues to create havoc, a team of researchers from Columbia Business School and The Wharton School is investigating the impact of weather on productivity. Using productivity in US automobile assembly plants as the basis for the research, they demonstrate the correlation between bad weather and poor productivity, even in industries that are not ‘climate-sensitive,’ such as manufacturing and services.

Idea #154
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The Press Gang, George Goodwin Kilburne, 1839-1924 (Source: Burlington Paintings, London)

Should I stay or should I go? The Power of Headhunters

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

We can learn much from recent research about the behavioural aspects of top executives when approached by search firms. It suggests that the decline in corporate loyalty – prevalent among lower level employees since the downsizing era of the 1980s – has spread to the upper echelons as well.

Idea #233
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Marion A. Trozzolo (1925 –1992) was an innovator, inventor, entrepreneur and  the first manufacturer of teflon coated cookware (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Should Technology Innovators Participate in the Commercialization Process?

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

Conventional wisdom has it that technology based entrepreneurs are better off commercializing their product by contracting with an incumbent (i.e. licensing). But this trade-off may not always be optimal, because if the innovator can learn from its own commercialization experience, albeit losing some profit initially, it could avoid making the same trade-off with future innovations, thus securing long-term profitability. Alternatively, joint commercialization may be the best approach.

Idea #448
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Peasant Wedding Dance, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, 1623 (Source: Wikimedia)

Tap Outside Communities for Innovations

Idea posted: April 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing

While companies, especially larger companies, invest a significant slice of their budgets on R&D, researchers are demonstrating that breakthrough innovation and ideas often come from outside the organization — specifically from communities of product users and amateurs in the field. For Wharton professor of management Ethan Mollick, a leading authority on the topic, Apple’s App Store is the latest example of the power of user communities.

Idea #120
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The Good and Bad Reasons Corporate Cash Is Trapped Overseas

Idea posted: November 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

Policy makers are worried that U.S. companies are using Permanently Reinvested Earnings (PRE) as a tax loophole rather than legitimately trying to grow their overseas operations. They are also concerned about cash trapped overseas instead of being invested in the U.S. economy. The SEC is focused on whether companies are using the rules concerning PRE as a means to overstate their profits. New research shows that a majority of companies are serious about overseas growth rather than looking for tax loopholes. However, cash trapped abroad is still a problem for the U.S. economy. 

Idea #458
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Napoleon on his Imperial Throne, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 1806, The Musee de l'Armee, Paris

The Speed of the Ascent: Which Leaders Get the Top Jobs?

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

Although there are many paths to senior roles, and many types of leader that take those paths, the route to the highest level of management, CEO level, appears to be the most clearly defined. And it tends to be established early on in a career. This research gives fresh insights into how people get to the top of the 21st century corporation.

Idea #333
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The Freezeanalysts, Aris Kalaizis, 1995 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Too Much of a Good Thing: Collaborative Overload

Idea posted: May 2018
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

While the power of collaboration and teamwork is well-documented, the potential dark side of collaboration — for example, the same people in an organization being over-burdened by requests from others because they’ve acquired a reputation as collaborators — is ignored. A team of researchers warn of the dangers of ‘collaborative overload.’

Idea #703
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Varied Effectiveness of Paid Endorsements on Social Media

Idea posted: April 2016
  • Marketing

New research reveals the potential benefits and pitfalls of including paid social media endorsers in new marketing efforts. The research notably revealed that paid endorsers are either eager to participate or very effective — but rarely both.

Idea #599
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Tina Turner in 1985, the year after she recorded 'What's Love Got to Do With It?' (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

What’s Love Got to Do with Work?

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

A culture of companionate love — defined as affection and compassion — in the workplace can lead to greater employee satisfaction and engagement, while a culture that undermines such emotions leads to unhappy workers… and customers.

Idea #412
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Replica of Rushworh's music store in Liverpool, where the Beatles bought their first Gibson guitars (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

When Showrooms Help Online Companies

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Nearly every bricks-and-mortar company will have an online presence today. But a few intrepid companies are going in the opposite direction: online companies are starting to open offline showrooms — and research shows the result is a boost in sales… and happy customers.

Idea #434
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Why High-Status Companies that Attract the Best Fail to Keep Them

Idea posted: September 2014
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

In the labour market, ‘high-status’ companies (the marquee names for people who want to work in that industry, such as Apple for high technology or Goldman Sachs for investment banking) will attract the best and the brightest employees — at least in the beginning of their careers. Once the résumé is burnished with the high-status employer, these employees are even more marketable, and often seek their fortunes elsewhere.

Idea #440
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fMRI brain scan, 2010 (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Why the Best Strategic Thinkers Are Both Rational and Emotional

Idea posted: December 2015
  • Strategy
  • Learning & Behaviour

The brain, through the magic of fMRIs (neuroimaging procedures), tells the true story of how the best strategic thinkers think: they deactivate their rational, linear prefrontal cortex, and activate the older, intuitive-sensing parts of the brain that triggers emotions and social awareness — the same parts of the brain on which creative artists draw their inspiration. Move over, Porter. Make room for Picasso. 

Idea #574
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