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Is Hostility to Blame for Sustainability’s Leadership Gap?

When a conservative think-tank challenged Apple’s sustainability programs at a recent shareholder meeting, CEO Tim Cook didn’t back down, refusing to bow to its calls to suspend any activities that didn’t “add to the bottom line.” Apple’s shareholders rewarded him with resounding support. If sustainability is to increase its profile as a business priority, more executives will need to follow Cook’s lead.

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Better Decisions with Smarter Data

Part of that gap between the pressure to be more data-driven in decision making, and a lack of useful data, says Grenoble University researcher Ali Fouladkar, can be explained by the fact that while data analysis has led to competitive advantage for some organizations, decision makers are often presented with noise-filled big data.

What they need instead is smart data.

The problem in getting to smart data in an era of big data is part technological and part training.

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The Science of Managing Black Swans

In business, a black swan is neither a bird nor a ballerina — it’s a very rare convergence of factors that leads to catastrophe. New research suggests that by exploiting all types of data, managers can help prevent some black swan events, and reduce the hazards of other risky blind spots. The caveat: less intuition; more data.

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“Diverge Before You Converge”: Tips for Creative Brainstorming

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A new integrative process for idea generation uses approaches drawn from education, business model design and more, and breaks down the process of creativity into seven distinct steps. One of the most intriguing steps is number five, “diverge before you converge.” The idea behind it is that the most effective brainstorming processes draw from both individual thinking and group discussion, with individuals coming together only after independent idea generation.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Nicolas Keller.
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How Nonprofit Organizations Use Reputational Risk Management

When an organization’s mission and message are about helping those in need, it may be hard to imagine any reputational risk associated with their enterprise. The surprising reality: nonprofit groups are building reputational risk management systems because they meet challenges to their missions very similar to those faced by private-sector companies — and reputation is everything.

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Sustainability Redefined: Setting a Goal of a Flourishing World

Business has gotten the message that the world’s resources aren’t unlimited. But, argues John Ehrenfeld, it has missed the corollary that growth can’t be unlimited if resources aren’t. Ehrenfeld argues that using growth as the basis for sustainability is a mistake — and proposes an alternative metric.

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The Untapped Opportunity of Visual Logos

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Research shows that corporate logos can have a significant positive effect on customer commitment to a brand: “separate visual symbols used as logos tend to be more effective than brand names at creating a sense of emotional connection with consumers,” write C. Whan Park (University of Southern California Marshall School of Business), Andreas B. Eisingerich (Imperial College Business School at Imperial College London) and Gratiana Pol (Marshall School of Business).

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Courtesy of Women's World Banking.
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Women’s World Banking: A Model Knowledge Network

Knowledge networks are helping members of organizations of all sizes learn quickly and collaborate productively. The most effective networks, including organizations such as Women’s World Banking, are clear about goals, allow for shared expertise and embrace online communication. Women’s World Banking, for instance, has a robust website where members discuss topics, share documents and collaborate on wikis. Charu Adesnik of Cisco, which provided seed funding for the network’s Leadership Community, says that “technology allows learning to continue well after an in-person training.”

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When Should You Fire Customers?

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Many customers are simply not profitable. Letting them go is one option, but so is trying to train them out of expensive behavior. Options suggested by Jiwoong Shin and K. Sudhir, both of Yale School of Management, include reducing services to unprofitable customers and educating them to use less costly service channels. “We recognize the mix of concerns, both ethical and practical, that swirl around firing customers,” write Shin and Sudhir. “We advocate firing customers only as a last resort.”

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Prognosis for GIS in Health Care Is Excellent

Using geo-coding and analytics to reshape operations and care is taking hold in healthcare systems. A recent conference on healthcare and geographic information systems from GIS software company Esri highlighted how the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the Veterans Health Administration use technology to gain better understanding of patient and health trends. The related area of social work is also beginning to see some uptake of the technology.

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Are Predictive Analytics Transforming Your Supply Chain?

While some industries like health care and retail are starting to see the transformational potential of big data and predictive analytics, these strategies haven’t quite panned out for supply chain managers. Why? Two big barriers: The cost of hiring skilled employees and the complexity of connecting nodes across an extended supply chain network.

New research suggests that the convergence of data science, predictive analytics and big data have the potential to transform the way in which supply chains leaders lead, and supply chains operate.

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Why Predictive Analytics Needs Due Process

Researchers are proposing a new method to limit privacy harms from predictive analytics: Apply due process that would determine, legally, the fairness of an algorithm. While a new framework may be a step forward for individual privacy, what does it mean for organizations that collect and utilize big data through a predictive analytics lens? A couple of things — should data-oriented due process pass policy and legislative muster.

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Are Companies Ready for the New Global Executive?

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HR executives believe that tomorrow’s leaders will need to be more diverse than today’s and that there are special challenges to that need. A survey of 197 human resource executives from global companies finds that “leaders from highly diverse backgrounds will need to work together more effectively.” The challenge is that diverse groups often have more disagreements than homogeneous groups, demanding proactive skill development in group dynamics.

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How to Be a Better Boss

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Asking reports if they would recommend their manager provides quick and efficient management assessment. A condensed question, which strips away the language and diluted focus of so many evaluations, is a more focused way of getting at the true quality of a manager. So argues Julian Birkinshaw, a professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at London Business School and the author of “Becoming a Better Boss: Why Good Management Is So Difficult” (Jossey-Bass, 2013).

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On the Evolution of “Social Business”

Social business means different things to different people. Some see it as business-oriented collaboration. Others, as a way of mobilizing people to do good. Still others dismiss it as “goofing off” or wasting time. However you look at it, social has the capacity to radically alter how business is done — whether it’s for-profit business or more altruistic ventures, or (as is the case with a growing number of companies) a little of both.

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