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Winter 2013
Volume 54, Issue # 2

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Free Article

The Art of Managing Change

  • Read Time: 2 min 

The pace of change in the contemporary business world can be daunting. New technologies and platforms keep emerging – and with them new markets, new business models and, often, new competitors.

Image courtesy of Greif.

The Benefits of Sustainability-Driven Innovation

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 11 min 

Results from the fourth year of MIT SMR’s research collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group have found that managers who say sustainability has caused their organization to change its business model are also more likely to say that the organization’s sustainability activities have added to profits. Respondents to the survey who changed their business model also generated profits from their sustainability-related activities.

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Free Article

What the Future May Bring

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 6 min 

Many authors writing about the future dismiss contrary opinions, striving with provocative titles such as The End of History and the Last Man (by Francis Fukuyama) or The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (by Ray Kurzweil) to persuade readers that the future they envision is not only plausible but inevitable. Jorgen Randers foregoes this temptation in his new book, 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years (White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012).

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How to Use Analogies to Introduce New Ideas

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 7 min 

While change and innovation clearly produce much of the turbulence that besets modern businesses, research suggests that change itself is not the culprit, but rather how organizations perceive and cope with change. Both people and organizations rely on analogies to help them comprehend change, including the meaning and potential of new technologies, systems and processes. But do all analogies function in the same way? How strongly should organizations adhere to their chosen analogies?

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How to Create Brand Engagement on Facebook

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 9 min 

Brands have embraced Facebook Inc. as a key marketing channel to drive engagement and brand awareness. The question is whether some brand content creates more brand engagement on Facebook than others. A recent study coded more than 1,000 wall posts from 98 global brands, aiming for a better understanding of how different wall-post attributes impact the number of “likes,” comments and “shares” a post receives. This article offers up the results of that study, for brand managers to act on.

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Image courtesy of Flickr user Robert Scoble.

Managing the Human Cloud

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 22 min 

Online crowdsourcing platforms are growing at double-digit rates and are starting to attract the attention of large companies. Just as cloud computing offers unconstrained access to processing capacity and storage, the “human cloud” promises to connect businesses to millions of workers on tap, ready to perform tasks and solve problems that range from the simple to the complex. The article explores four new human cloud models: The Facilitator model, The Arbitrator, The Aggregator, The Governor.

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Is It Really Lonely at the Top?

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 4 min 

There’s a business relationship that’s often overlooked: the relationships in between friends and allies — in other words, business relationships with people you enjoy being with. This article defines these people as chums and asserts that their importance too often goes unnoticed. Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends & Influence People is a practical classic on the art of cultivating chums — of inviting business allies into your courtyard while keeping them out of your kitchen.

Image courtesy of Wal-Mart.

Rebuilding the Relationship Between Manufacturers and Retailers

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 19 min 

In the tug of war between manufacturers and retailers, retailers seem to be winning. Retailers control market access and influence consumer behavior. Their power has moved downstream. What can be done to improve the situation? While manufacturers are locked into fixed investments and products with long payback cycles, retailers have a variety of ways of making money. This article explores how manufacturers can benefit by tailoring their approaches to a retailer’s specific business model.

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How to Change an Organization Without Blowing It Up

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 22 min 

Too often, organizational change occurs all at once, on a large scale, and often in response to crisis. Yet we know from a great deal of experience that such transformation attempts often fail, fostering employee discontent and producing mediocre solutions with little lasting impact.

Continuously pursuing smaller-scale changes — and weaving them together — offers a practical middle path between large-scale transformation and small-scale pilot projects

Image courtesy of Ultimaker.

Innovation Lessons From 3-D Printing

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 25 min 

3-D printing is the printing of solid, physical 3-D objects. “Just as the Web democratized innovation in bits, a new class of ‘rapid prototyping’ technologies…is democratizing innovation in atoms,” Wired magazine’s longtime editor-in-chief, Chris Anderson, stated in Makers: The New Industrial Revolution. Indeed, open-source 3-D printing fits in with the general trend of open-source innovation by collaborative online communities. The big question: How should existing companies respond?

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How to Identify the Best Customers for Your Business

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 20 min 

It’s difficult to start a venture that gains traction with paying customers, but it’s even harder to grow beyond certain levels of sales. The original business model must deal with new products or markets. Early leadership behaviors are often no longer viable. Moreover, different customers come with different transaction costs for the seller. This article discusses the importance of customer selection and how intelligent opportunity management can help companies scale their selling initiatives.

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Free Article

When One Size Does Not Fit All

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 9 min 

Although executives understand the difference between efficiency and responsiveness, many are confused about when to apply each strategy. In recent years, companies have been caught in the bind in which Dell Inc. found itself in 2008, when it needed to transform its supply chain to serve new customers in new channels. The question was: how to do that? Dell decided to create multiple supply chains, configured so that the company could reduce complexity and benefit from economies of scale.

Image courtesy of Blue4green.

What You Can Learn From Your Customer’s Customer

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 21 min 

Innovative companies fund internal research and development to gain an edge in the marketplace. They also work closely with suppliers to offer greater functionality and performance for their customers. However, some critical new product insights don’t come from suppliers and customers working together but from the customer’s customers. Drawing on numerous examples from technology companies, this article explores the various ways parties can collaborate so that everyone benefits.

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Free Article

Building Your Company’s Capabilities Through Global Expansion

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 18 min 

Today, the task of the global strategist involves not only identifying where to leverage a company’s strength but also how to enhance and renew its capabilities. The experience of many global companies suggests that expensive mistakes are often made when companies don’t ask key questions before making internationalization decisions. By better understanding their own competitive advantages and how they might fit into or complement a new market, companies can improve their chances of success.