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Balancing Tradeoffs in Social Media

Successful enterprise social media use has less to do with the tools employed than with the climate that a company creates. Cultivating the right climate requires balancing a number of tradeoffs through crafted social media policies, adapting characteristics of existing organizational culture, and having managers model effective social media practices for employees. In part 5 of his 5-part series, Gerald C. Kane offers a perspective on how to balance these tradeoffs and create the right mix for a company and its culture.

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The Rise of Visual Content Online

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  • Read Time: 4 min 

Photos, videos, and even gifs are gaining importance as the primary means by which companies communicate. Brands that emphasize visual content are rewarded with measurable impact on ROI and engagement metrics. As it becomes harder and harder to get customers’ attention in a noisy online marketplace, there are important reasons — both technological and biological — why managers should pay more attention to their visual assets.

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Ready or Not, Here IoT Comes

The Internet of Things is on the brink of transforming business, but most businesses aren’t ready for the changes to the marketplace that the IoT will bring. There is very little time for companies to prepare for the changes coming as data-collecting devices proliferate. The good news is that by recognizing certain challenges, organizations can begin the possible, albeit difficult, process of getting ready.

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Environmental and Human Rights Assume a New Urgency for Boards

The G7 summit in June of 2015 and the G20 meeting in November both upheld the idea that businesses have a responsibility to respect environmental and human rights principles. As such concerns take center stage, business leaders must recognize their role in navigating the new regulatory environment. As environmental and human rights risks rise in importance, board members are at risk of being seen as negligent if they fail to ensure that their companies comply with the G20/OECD Principles and the standards to which the Principles refer.

Photo courtesy of Patagonia/Dylan Lucas Gordon.

Why Sustainability-Oriented Innovation Is Valuable in Every Context

While the most basic form of Sustainability-Oriented Innovation has led to combining sustainability practices with revenue generation, more refined forms of SOI target innovation at different stages and in different contexts. Jay, the director of the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan, along with Gonzalez and Gerard, write that “SOI allows companies to push beyond their usual innovation boundaries and their typical business protocols.”

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The Killer App for 3D Printing? The Circular Economy

3D printing is currently a niche technology — but it has the potential to help us completely alter how we use and reuse materials to make custom goods. As a technology, it offers 3 factors that define sustainable systems: (1) materials parsimony, (2) power autonomy, and (3) value cycling. Guest editor Gregory Unruh explains how 3D printing represents a sustainability game-changer.

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The Ethics of Wielding an Analytical Hammer

With analytics as a hammer, so many questions can start to look like nails. It is difficult for organizations to know what to do. But the “should” in “What should we do?” goes beyond just selecting what to hammer on for maximum insight. Companies need to pay attention to the ways in which the possibilities that analytical abilities create involve responsibilities as well.

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How Well Does Your Company Integrate Demand and Supply?

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  • Read Time: 1 min 

An online questionnaire by the authors of the MIT Sloan Management Review article “Integrating Supply and Demand” helps users assess how well their company’s supply chains are helping meet product demand — and serve key customers. The self-assessment lets users rate their companies in five areas in the demand and supply integration spectrum: relevant value focus, integrated knowledge sharing, strategic resource allocation, integrated behavior, and capacity and demand balance.

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Finishing School for Social Intrapreneurs

The Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program is focused on developing business leaders for a sustainable society. One of its fundamental founding questions was, “If we want business to operate in a way that’s attentive to long-term value creation and an array of stakeholders, what kind of leadership do we need?” The solution: Aspen’s “First Movers” program, cultivating creative intrapreneurs dedicated to products and management practices that enhance profitability without negative social and environmental impacts.

Image courtesy of Nike, Inc.

Sustainability-Oriented Innovation: A Bridge to Breakthroughs

This blog post is the first of a four-part series on sustainability-oriented innovation (SOI). The authors explain what SOI is, where and how it can be used, its impact, and its challenges. While many businesses are aware of SOI, they are struggling to shed the traditional tradeoff model that they have come to accept and rely on. Achieving sustainability-oriented innovation means taking off blinders, shifting away from deeply embedded mental models, and working closely with a more diverse stakeholder base.

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Dare to be Digital: Transforming Your Workplace

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  • Read Time: 3 min 

Research in 2014 and 2015 shows that the digital workplace is about a fundamentally different way of working, with distinctive behavioral norms. Influence, networks, and dynamic decisions become much more important than power, hierarchies, static decisions, processes, and rules — features that make sense in a slow-moving, traditional environment. As a result, making the transition from a traditional to a digital workplace can be challenging.

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The Post-Email Organization

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  • Read Time: 6 min 

People have a natural tendency to gravitate to people similar to themselves. This habit offers social benefits but also reinforces biases and degrades decision making. Enterprise social networking platforms may help counteract these typical social tendencies, allowing people to develop and maintain networks more beneficial to an organization’s purpose and to their own performance.

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What Companies Can Learn From Social Scalers

A new breed of social entrepreneurs has evolved. “Social scalers” focus on market-based solutions that can be scaled up to create social change. Their goal: transform social problems into business opportunities on a national or even global scale. The authors of Strategy and Competitiveness in Latin American Markets: The Sustainability Frontier (Edward Elgar, 2014) look at how companies seeking to address social issues can learn from these social scalers.

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The Changing Business Climate Is Causing Product Die-Offs

As sustainability becomes a driving force in the evolving marketplace, many products and technologies are unable to compete within the new parameters. The recent scandal involving Volkswagen’s falsifying of its diesel cars’ emissions is a case in point: If your business model can meet the ever-higher standards of sustainability only when customers reduce consumption of the product, it is by definition unsustainable. What does this mean for managers committed to products with questionable sustainability?

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Digital Transparency and Permanence

Social media has offered a new means of intra-enterprise communication that has surprising benefits for creativity and innovation. But there are drawbacks as well, mostly relating to issues of transparency and permanence in a digital environment. In part 3 of his 5-part series, Gerald C. Kane offers a perspective on balancing the pros and cons of enterprise social media.

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Overcoming Legacy Processes to Achieve Big Data Success

Most large corporations are saddled with fragmented analytical processes, limiting their ability to operate with agility, flexibility, and insight. As a result, larger firms are often challenged when it comes to innovation and responsiveness. But Big Data approaches that enabled the flexibility and rapid growth of newer, smaller firms are being adopted by mainstream corporations. The goal: overcome legacy challenges and introduce greater corporate speed.

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Secrets in the Age of Data

Secrets may be an unexpected casualty of increasing analytical prowess — just ask Volkswagen. Companies often have information they’d rather keep under wraps; sometimes it’s innocuous, like the timing of a new product launch, but other times it’s embarrassing details about unethical or even criminal behavior. But as data analytics becomes more broadly available, the chances of keeping secrets out of public view grow slimmer every day. Will this result in a change in how companies do business?

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Webinar: Flourishing in the Face of Supply Chain Disruption

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The webinar speakers explain how proactive managers create innovative, dynamic organizations that survive and prosper under any circumstances. They show how resilient enterprises adapt successfully to turbulence and design resilient assets, products and processes, highlighting companies that have improved shareholder value in turbulent times. And, they demonstrate a research-based methodology to identify important supply chain vulnerabilities and set priorities for strengthening capabilities.

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Strategic Sustainability Uses of Life-Cycle Analysis

At its roots, life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a method to quantify total sustainability impacts — like resource use and environmental damage — over the entire life of a product, from “cradle to grave.” While there is informational value in the basic exercise, the real utility of LCA is comparison — that is, comparing one product’s sustainability impacts with another’s. Given the effort and cost involved, what are the strategic benefits of LCA? And should you be employing such a process?

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