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Does Your Boss Want You to Sleep?

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Being fresh for the work day requires prioritizing sleep — which organizations can do a better job encouraging. Academics Christopher M. Barnes and Gretchen Spreitzer argue that sleep is “a key to human sustainability” but note that many leaders model behavior that discourages getting a full night's rest: executives who brag about only needing a handful of hours of sleep “are not setting a good example, especially when it comes to getting the best performance out of the talent in an organization.”

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Social Media’s Expanding Relationship Universe

Social psychologists studying technology have created new classes of relationships among people. To understand the potential value of social tools within the enterprise, technology platforms need to take into account four factors identified by researchers studying offline social networks — proximities, interactions, relationships and flows.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Fred Scharmen. https://www.flickr.com/photos/sevensixfive/530725770
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How to Manage Too Many Good Choices

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When faced with information overload, it can be easier to make good decisions if you're able to remove yourself from all the details of the decision and consider the choices more abstractly. Research shows that such distancing, which can be either temporal or physical, can help people to filter out the less-vital details and enable them to focus on the gist of the matter.

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Once You Align the Analytical Stars, What’s Next?

You’ve figured out how to get the data, and how to make sure it’s good quality. You’ve hired the right people to put your data through the analytics wringer. Now you’ve got the results in your hands &mdash and you may not be sure what to do next. Consuming analytics effectively — and getting business value out of your analytics — is a challenge for many companies, and executives must get creative to increase their comfort level.

Image courtesy of Flickr user jah. https://www.flickr.com/photos/jahdakinebrah/3669752502
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The Easy Industry Research Hardly Anybody Uses

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Before introducing a new product to an emerging industry, companies should track the evolution of category labels in that industry. “Once you understand the nature of category labels and how they evolve, you can fairly easily track them,” write Fernando F. Suarez and Stine Grodal, both of Boston University School of Management. “But few companies do.”

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Closing the Trade Finance Sustainability Gap

Environmental sustainability has moved into the limelight when it comes to supply chains. Companies look closely at how their goods are produced and sourced. But a gap exists when it comes to the finance and insurance industries. ECOFACT’s Olivier Jaeggi and Gina Santos take a closer look at how the enablers of global trade — the banks and insurers who finance it — are starting to become accountable for their part in sustainable economic growth.

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Integrated Reporting: Corporate Disclosure for China’s “New Normal”

The “new attitude” in China toward sustainable economic growth depends upon thoughtful management of six types of capital: natural resources, human resources, financial capital, manufacturing infrastructure, intellectual capital, and social relationships. Integrated reporting looks at the performance of all six types of capital and how the performance of each element is related to one another. The challenge for China: developing partnerships with business to make it work.

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MasterCard Pins Down the Cash Economy

When impoverished families in developing nations receive government subsidies in cash, the system is an easy target for abuse, fraud, and theft — and some of the world’s most vulnerable people suffer from economic insecurity as a result. MasterCard seeks to change that by helping governments move to a non-cash system. A 2012 initiative launched in South Africa highlights both short- and long-term benefits of the approach for the company, the government, and some of South Africa’s poorest citizens.

Image courtesy of Flickr user chris riebschlager. https://www.flickr.com/photos/riebschlager/343600611
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Beware the Winning Streak

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How well do people factor past performance into their expectations for the future? Not very. In one study, for instance, students playing darts who did well in the first round bet that they would beat the improvement goals of those who did worse. They generally were wrong: the better the participants’ score in the first round, the less likely they were to improve as much as other participants in the second.

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Are Social Media’s Benefits Getting Lost in Translation?

One key positive of social media and social networking is that it encourages communication — between the organization and its customers as well as among employees in different departments or even different business units. But particularly among multinational companies, there is one key drawback: language. Even when companies designate an “official” language for communication, the language barrier can impede both outward-facing customer interactions and internal collaboration. One solution: employ a multilingual approach tailored to the organization’s needs.

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Teamwork Plus Creativity Equals Engagement

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Employees can be inspired to perform better if their creativity is challenged through teamwork. At four Deloitte LLP offices in India, an experiment in team-based contests to come up with smart, challenging and practical solutions to real-life business problems unleashed out-of-the-box, original thinking that challenged traditional wisdom.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Keoni Cabral. https://www.flickr.com/photos/keoni101/7221666136
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Does Deciding to Seek Advice Signal Weakness?

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It’s common for people to worry that reaching out for advice will make them appear less competent, according to research from Harvard Business School and the Wharton School. But if the task is seen as difficult, the advice-seeker is actually viewed as more competent. In addition to establishing a connection between people’s willingness to ask for advice and others’ perceptions of their competence, the authors found that whom people ask for advice makes a difference in how they are viewed.

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For Many Decisions, Just Go With the Flow

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For many decisions, letting your mind wander to a choice that you feel drawn to — rather than laboriously weighing all the options — is more than ample. Researchers Colleen E. Giblin (Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University), Carey K. Morewedge (Boston University School of Management) and Michael I. Norton (Harvard Business School) say that while mind wandering is probably not suited for making weighty decisions, it is a less onerous way to sort through options for many decisions.

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Are Data Scientists Really a Breed Apart?

What differentiates data scientists from other quantitative analysts? It's partly their skill set and partly their mind set. “The recent emergence of the digital enterprise has created a seemingly insatiable management appetite to amass and analyze data,” write Jeanne G. Harris and Vijay Mehrotra. Data scientists are particularly able to make sense of so much information. For instance, 85% said their projects often or always address new problems, compared to 58% of analysts who made that claim.

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Should Employees Be Encouraged to Tweet?

At Mitel, an Ontario business communications company, managers have enlisted 1,600 people to become actively involved in social media. The company believes that all employees are stewards of the brand — and therefore can be trusted to represent it well on social media. Many large companies “do their best to inhibit and restrict employee participation in social or major brand initiatives,” says Martyn Etherington, Mitel's CMO. “We, on the other hand, have tremendous faith and trust in our employees.”

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Sustaining Sustainability

Steve Zaffron, CEO of the Vanto Group, has worked with diverse organizations — from rocket-scientist NASA to labor-intensive mining — to achieve a culture where sustainability focus runs deep. His experience shows that leaps in human performance come less from tangible investments in automation, equipment or compensation schemes, and more through intangible transformations in the way people in organizations see themselves and others. “It’s not an easy thing to change the way in which people see the world and themselves,” says Zaffron “It takes time to develop.”

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How to Tee Up Choices: The Upside of Default Rules

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How much choice do people really want? Asking people to make their own choices requires time and focus — there's all those options to consider. Harvard Law School professor Cass R. Sunstein writes that default rules, which establish starting points for everything from rental car agreements to health insurance plans, can save people time and keep them from being overwhelmed by too much choice.

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Simplifying the Enterprise Social Media Landscape

Social media platforms provide two key capabilities in the enterprise context — managing networks and sharing digital content. The problem is, with multitudes of platforms available — and features changing daily! — it’s hard to pick among them. Blogger Gerald C. Kane outlines a simple method for making optimal decisions about which social media platforms an enterprise should use.

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If You Think Big Data’s Challenges Are Tough Now

Although workers and consumers generate two-thirds of all new data, that’s about to change. Sensors and smart devices — from traffic lights and grocery store scanners to hospital equipment and industrial sensors — are beginning to generate an enormous wave of data that will increase the digital universe ten-fold by 2020. Guest blogger Randy Bean, CEO of NewVantage Partners, explains what this means for executives trying to adapt to a rapidly changing, data-centered business environment.

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