Research Feature

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Five Rules for Managing Large, Complex Projects

Large-scale, long-term projects are notoriously difficult to manage. But recent research on megaprojects — defined as projects costing more than $1 billion — reveals five lessons that can help executives manage any big, complex project more effectively.

Using Scenario Planning to Reshape Strategy

Rather than trying to predict the future, organizations need to strengthen their abilities to cope with uncertainty. A new approach to scenario planning can help companies reframe their long-term strategies by developing several plausible scenarios.

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How to Catalyze Innovation in Your Organization

The authors’ research suggests that, rather than leaving the development of innovation to serendipity, executives should create collaborative contexts where innovation is likely to emerge from unpredictable pockets of creativity within an organization. By understanding and tapping the power of employee networks, executives can stimulate the creation of these kinds of collaborative environments.

Building a Winning Business Model Portfolio

Many companies today are operating several business models at once. But despite the potential that business model diversification has for generating growth and profit, executives need to carefully assess the strategic contributions of each element of their business model portfolio.

Developing Innovative Solutions Through Internal Crowdsourcing

Internal crowdsourcing, which seeks to channel the ideas and expertise of the company’s own employees, allows employees to interact dynamically with coworkers in other locations, propose new ideas, and suggest new directions to management. Because many large companies have pockets of expertise and knowledge scattered across different locations, harnessing the cognitive diversity within organizations can open up rich new sources of innovation.

The Best Response to Digital Disruption

Although digitization’s disruptive influence is growing rapidly, there’s surprisingly little empirical evidence on the magnitude of digital disruption — nor any showing how companies are reacting on a broad scale. A new global survey of C-suite executives looks at how digitization unfolds across industries and how incumbents are responding. With some notable exceptions, the answer is: “Not well.”

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The Big Squeeze: How Compression Threatens Old Industries

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 16 min 

Accelerating compression of both revenues and profits may rapidly prove fatal to traditional businesses. Consider the accelerating decline of voice calls as a means of communicating via mobile telephone: From 2013 to 2015, average mobile voice revenue per user declined globally by 19%, and a further decline of 26% is expected through 2020. To stave off disaster, incumbents must transform and renew their core operations — while also growing into new businesses and industries.

Harnessing the Secret Structure of Innovation

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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