Research Feature

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Saving Money Through Structured Problem-Solving

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 6 min 

As busy as they are, leaders need to find ways to observe fundamental work processes in their organizations. When they do, they usually discover that there are gaps between theory and reality in how works get done. Michael Morales’ experience — in which identifying and addressing such gaps led to his company saving $50,000 in just 60 days — is a case in point.

Harnessing the Secret Structure of Innovation

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 11 min 

Innovation, much like marketing and human resources, can be made less reliant on artful intuition by using information in new ways. But this requires a change in perspective: We need to view innovation not as the product of luck or extraordinary vision but as the result of a deliberate search process.

The Most Underrated Skill in Management

Few questions in business are more powerful than “What problem are you trying to solve?” Leaders who can formulate clear problem statements get more done with less effort and move more rapidly than their less-focused counterparts. But stopping to ask this question doesn’t come naturally — managers must put conscious effort into learning a structured approach.

Building a More Intelligent Enterprise

The authors examine how managers can combine a sophisticated understanding of human decision making with technology-enabled insights to make smarter choices in the face of uncertainty and complexity. Integrating the two streams of knowledge is not easy, but once management teams learn how to blend them, the advantages can be substantial.

The Smart Way to Respond to Negative Emotions at Work

It is impossible to block negative emotions from the workplace. Whether provoked by bad decisions, misfortune, poor timing, or employees’ personal problems, no organization is immune from trouble. And trouble agitates bad feelings. However, in many workplaces, negative emotions are brushed aside; in some others, they are taboo. Unfortunately, the author’s research suggests that neither of these strategies is effective. Instead, insight and readiness are key to developing effective responses.

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To Improve Cybersecurity, Think Like a Hacker

To protect their organizations from cyberthreats, companies need to understand how hackers go about their work. The authors’ research suggests that hackers’ attacks typically involve four steps: identifying vulnerabilities; scanning and testing; gaining access; and maintaining access.

The Corporate Implications of Longer Lives

People are living longer and working longer — but few organizations have come to grips with the opportunities and challenges that greater longevity brings. Across the world, people are becoming more conscious of their lengthening working lives — but frustrated by their working context. The authors’ research suggests that while people know they will have to restructure their lives and careers, corporations are unprepared.

Protect Your Project From Escalating Doubts

Many big projects start off well, but then lose momentum and spiral downward as skeptical stakeholders withdraw support. Executives need to identify common triggers that spark stakeholder concerns — and take action to avert the ‘cycle of doubt’ that can ensue.

Getting Past the Hype About 3-D Printing

Despite the promise of additive manufacturing, the authors argue, near-term expectations about how 3-D printing will revolutionize manufacturing are overblown. Much of the technology is still being hammered out, and the authors examine three important myths about additive manufacturing.

Competing Through Joint Innovation

Even as multinationals struggle to make inroads in emerging markets, companies from those markets are finding ways to compete in Europe and the U.S. A case in point is Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company, which has used strategic partnerships to gain ground in Europe. Huawei’s overseas expansion closely resembles the strategy the company used to build its position in China: Start at the perimeter and work toward the center.

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Sustainability Lessons From the Front Lines

While most executives recognize the need to develop more sustainable business models, putting this goal into practice has been a challenge. Too many initiatives are stymied by a set of common obstacles. By recognizing how executing sustainability initiatives differs from typical change management, corporate leaders can promote more lasting gains in sustainable business development.

The Next Wave of Business Models in Asia

The first wave of innovation from emerging markets in Asia has been predicated on the replication of existing business models at lower cost. The second wave, which could be even more disruptive than the first, fundamentally reimagines various facets of the business model to find new, often digitally enabled, ways in which resources and processes can be leveraged. Such companies identify creative ways for partners, stakeholders, and customers to be involved in value creation and capture.

Mastering the Market Intelligence Challenge

A shortage of reliable information is common in emerging markets. Because such markets are heterogeneous, the sources and methods for market intelligence require modification before they can be transferred from one emerging market to another. Market intelligence is thus best viewed and managed as a strategic asset that multinationals should invest in keeping up to date.

Engaging With Startups in Emerging Markets

For large multinationals, forging effective partnerships with emerging-market startups is complicated. Traits that make startups attractive as partners also make it hard for large companies to engage with them. Looking at startups in India, China, and South Africa, researchers identify key factors inhibiting emerging market partnerships and offer strategies for addressing them.

Which Features Increase Customer Retention?

Companies have an incentive to design goods and services with customer retention in mind. Unfortunately, they often add expensive features to their offerings without knowing whether or how much they will increase retention — and adding too many features can actually decrease customer satisfaction with products after customers have used them.

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When Employees Don’t ‘Like’ Their Employers on Social Media

When employees are not fans or supporters of the company’s products on social media, it sends an ambiguous message and could deprive the company of potential supporters. Employers can counter this by encouraging their “digital native” employees to become brand ambassadors for the company.

Why Big Data Isn’t Enough

There is a growing belief that sophisticated algorithms paired with big data will find relationships independent of any preconceived hypotheses. But in businesses that involve scientific research and technological innovation, this approach is misguided and potentially risky, as spurious correlations and “noise” may lead analysts astray.

The Hard Truth About Business Model Innovation

Attempts at business model innovation have led to both repeated failures as well as seemingly inexplicable successes — and few formulas to help guide business leaders. Yet a study of both failures and successes shows that the journey to successful innovation is predictable, although “travel time” differs by industry and circumstance. The manager’s dilemma is to identify whether the journey is one the company wants — or needs — to take.

A New Approach to Automating Services

Early adopters of software robots exemplify how companies generate tangible benefits via service innovations in three ways: (1) by developing an approach to service automation supported by top management, (2) by initiating effective processes that deliver value to customers and employees, and (3) by building enterprise-wide skills and capabilities. Managers interested in capturing the benefits of service automation need to pursue all three avenues.

Harnessing the Best of Globalization

Globalization offers significant opportunities, yet most companies approach key decisions haphazardly. Although the complexity of globalization means managers rarely can fully analyze a global business opportunity before they need to act, the basic tensions in global business models are straightforward. A simple analysis of global ventures along these dimensions can help entrepreneurs develop clearer expectations and decision-making processes.

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