Operations

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Driving Growth and Employment Through Logistics

Logistics clusters are local networks of businesses that provide a wide array of services, including transportation carriers, warehousing companies, and freight forwarders. Logistics clusters address several challenges that economies face, including the need for good jobs. In addition to helping companies navigate global supply networks, logistics clusters are contributing to the efficiency of global supply chains and, in the process, increasing international trade and global trade flows.

Image courtesy of Flickr user H4NUM4N.

The Benefits of Combining Data With Empathy

Everyone has experienced the frustration of having to repeat voice commands multiple times before finally asking to speak to a service representative. Many large companies have become so focused on optimizing their business processes and systems that they have become all too willing to forget about cultivating emotional connections with customers. But in order to detect and respond to shifting customer needs, companies need to show more, not less, empathy with their customers.

Image courtesy of Flickr user mmoosa.

Why Kraft Foods Cares About Fair Trade Chocolate

As vice president for sustainability at Kraft Foods, Chris McGrath has been pivotal at guiding the company’s sustainability efforts. With its global reach and massive market shares, the company is setting new standards on how to source through sustainable agriculture and keep packaging out of landfills.

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Free Article

“Let Me Come Right Out and Say It: You Cheat”

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 3 min 

”As long as we cheat by only a little bit, we can benefit from cheating and still view ourselves as marvelous human beings,” writes behavioral economist Dan Ariely in his new book “The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie To Everyone — Especially Ourselves.”

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Building Effective Business Relationships in China

As China’s growth and integration into the world economy continue, many companies are looking for ways to build effective business relationships with Chinese companies. China’s ways of doing business are becoming more Westernized, but non-Chinese executives must still work hard to build trust in relationships with their Chinese business partners. But developing trust between Chinese and Western executives takes time. This article explores methods for developing cross-cultural trust.

Image courtesy of Novartis.

How to Create Productive Partnerships With Universities

University-business collaborations are an increasingly important source of research and development for many companies. Yet despite their importance, many companies take much less care managing these relationships than they do those with their vendors or customers. As a result, business-academic collaborations often fail to achieve as much as they might. By taking a more structured approach, companies can improve the performance of their academic research partnerships.

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Inside the World of the Project Baron

In industrial sectors such as consulting, advertising, filmmaking, software, architecture, engineering and construction, most individual businesses, by definition, are “project-based firms.” This article proposes the term “baronies” to describe the organizational units that direct the projects within project-based firms, and highlights the roles that barons play in three basic types of project-based firms: dominions, tight federations and loose federations.

Image courtesy of Flickr user jurvetson.

Improving Environmental Performance in Your Chinese Supply Chain

Multinational corporations are under growing pressure to make sure their contractors and subcontractors in China meet environmental standards. Yet traditional approaches to ensuring environmental, health and safety compliance, such as checklist audits, have proved problematic. This article recommends that organizations work closely with suppliers, providing incentives for identifying, disclosing and addressing problems and establishing collaborative relationships with NGOs and industry groups.

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Is It Time to Rethink Your Manufacturing Strategy?

Since the mid-1990s, many companies have outsourced or offshored their manufacturing operations. For most, one crucial enabling factor was cheap oil: Long supply lines were economically feasible because transportation costs were relatively low. Hence, companies emphasized reducing manufacturing costs through (1) offshoring or outsourcing; (2) plant rationalization; and (3) consolidating distribution centers and warehouses to reduce inventory levels and minimize fixed facility costs.

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How Gap Inc. Engaged With its Stakeholders

Back when protesters were targeting the company, the Gap realized that it needed to overhaul the way it interacted with its critics. So the company launched a strategy of stakeholder engagement.

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Michael A. Cusumano, professor of management, MIT Sloan School of Management

How to Innovate When Platforms Won’t Stop Moving

In this interview, MIT Sloan School of Management professor of management Michael Cusumano discusses traits that will help companies through disruptive transitions. One trait is agility, which has four principles: capabilities rather than strategy; pull rather than push concepts; economies of scope rather than scale; and an emphasis on flexibility rather than efficiency. A second trait is deep, differentiating capabilities, which can be found in processes (such as supply-chain management).

Image courtesy of Flickr user kenjonbro.

What Really Happened to Toyota?

Consumers were surprised in October 2009 by the first of a series of highly publicized recalls of Toyota vehicles in the United States. Citing a potential problem in which poorly placed or incorrect floor mats under the driver’s seat could lead to uncontrolled acceleration in a range of models, Toyota announced that it was recalling 3.8 million U.S. vehicles. The article discusses two root causes for Toyota’s quality problems.

Image courtesy of Flickr user eszter.

Why Every Project Needs a Brand (and How to Create One)

Project leaders should sequence and articulate messaging about their projects in the same way a marketing manager would organize an external branding effort to promote a company’s products and services. Just as product branding creates awareness and sustains value in the minds of an organization’s external customers, shareholders, and constituents, a brand mindset can empower a project leader to develop strategically-timed messages to create visibility and engagement among key targets.

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