Problem Solving

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Thomas H. Davenport
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Harnessing Quant Power

A new book by Thomas H. Davenport and Jinho Kim says that if companies can’t turn all the data they’re swimming in into better decision making through quantitative analytics, they’re “probably creating suboptimal performance.” The book, Keeping Up with the Quants: Your Guide to Understanding and Using Analytics, is geared toward executives who are not analytics experts but whose jobs require them to deal with those who have such expertise, both inside and outside their organizations.

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The Pitfalls of Project Status Reporting

Accepting five inconvenient truths about project status reporting can greatly reduce the chance of being blindsided by unpleasant surprises. For instance, many employees tend to put a positive spin on anything they report to senior management. And when employees do report bad news, senior executives often ignore it. Overconfidence is an occupational hazard in the executive suite, and executives need to examine their own assumptions and beliefs about project status reporting.

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How To Develop a Useful “Why” Statement

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Asking why you’re embarking on a project before you begin raises the project’s chance of success. But “to our continuing surprise, we often discover these teams have not even discussed, let alone agreed on, why they are pursuing the project,” write Karen A. Brown, Nancy Lea Hyer and Richard Ettenson. But producing a good “why” statement often requires both a lot of work and heated debate.

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Business Quandary? Use a Competition to Crowdsource Best Answers

Top data scientists often share three characteristics: they are creative, they are curious and they are competitive. Anthony Goldbloom, CEO of Kaggle, a company that hosts data prediction competitions, has figured out how to tap all three of these characteristics to help companies crowdsource their analytics problems.

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Al Roth’s Pioneering Work In ‘Market Design’

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Al Roth, expert in game theory, experimental economics, and market design (and Harvard Business School professor), is one of the big names in the field of matching markets — building efficient systems that match, for instance, new doctors to their first hospital jobs out of medical school.

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Toyota’s Secret: The A3 Report

How does Toyota solve problems, create plans, and get new things done? Company managers use a tool called the A3, named after the international paper size on which it fits, as a key tactic in sharing a deeper method of thinking. This tactic and style of processing information lies at the heart of Toyota’s sustained success.

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Morph the Web To Build Empathy, Trust and Sales

We’ve long been able to personalize what information the Internet tells us — but now comes “Web site morphing,” and an Internet that personalizes how we like to be told. For companies, it means that communicating — and selling — will never be the same.

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How to Have Influence

The difference between effective and ineffective change makers is that the effective ones don’t rely on a single source of influence. They marshal several sources at once to get superior results.

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Being in the “Out” Crowd

Many large multinational corporations are hardly a model of organizational efficiency, with the right hand frequently not knowing what the left is doing. A valuable solution developed at one location fails to spread to other sites struggling with a similar problem, so they continually have to reinvent the wheel.

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