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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.

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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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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 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.

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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 be a more diverse group than today’s and will face special challenges as a result. 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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Turning Big Data Into Smart Data

Current thinking has big data and analytics turning companies into data-driven powerhouses. But if companies don’t know how to use data well, it can actually prevent companies from making the transition to data-driven operations. Jeanne Ross, director of MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research, says that companies can build cultures that encourage people, even low-level employees, to work well with data by using evidence-based management.

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How Big Data is Influencing Big Companies

A recent data and analytics survey sheds light on what large organizations are actually doing with big data initiatives. The survey of nearly 100 senior executives from Fortune 1000 companies found that executives are reporting anincreasing commitment to big data projects. As well, most executives, 70%, are looking to improve their “time to answer” with big data.

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How to Revitalize Your Digital Business Model

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What should a company do if its digital business model isn’t working very well? Peter Weill, chairman of the MIT Sloan School of Management’s Center for Information Systems Research, has created some principles to revamp the fortunes of a digital business. His framework focuses around three planks: content, experience and platform. Executives should decide which plank offers competitive advantage and develop a world-class version of it online, partnering with others for the other two planks.

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Three Paradoxes of Big Data

The 1997 sci-fi film Gattaca presents a society where DNA determines social class. A registry identifies and creates genetically superior individuals — termed “valids” — while winnowing out their naturally conceived “in-valid” counterparts. The “valids” have a predetermined career (and life!) path, unalterable by desire, capability, circumstance or happenstance.

But how close are fact and fiction? Can genetics, biometrics and, essentially, predictive analytics be utilized to determine an individual’s path?

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Are Algorithms Influencing Your Business?

The growing importance of algorithms to business and society is a little discussed feature of our increasingly digital world. These algorithms are the underpinnings of NSA surveillance, online search engines, corporate security, modern matchmaking and other activities in both the private and public sector. They can be a source of competitive advantage (think Google), play an operational role or drive marketing. Just what are algorithms, how are they used, and what happens when influential algorithms go wrong?

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