Teamwork

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Putting an End to Leaders’ Self-Serving Behavior

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Business leaders are often selfish. They honestly think they are entitled to more resources than anyone else, and that they have earned the right to take more. Their self-serving behavior is usually enabled by their organizations. But three strategies can help: Organizations can choose leaders who tilt away from self-serving frameworks; create systems that reinforce fairer evaluations; and recognize the added complexities that arise on the global stage.

Why Your Company Needs More Collaboration

What distinguishes companies that have built advanced digital capabilities? The ability to collaborate. Research finds that a focus on collaboration — both with and without technology, both within organizations and with external partners and stakeholders — is central to how digitally advanced companies create business value and establish competitive advantage over less advanced rivals.

Four Habits of Highly Effective Virtual Teams

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Employers thinking about allowing employees to work remotely are often conflicted. On the one hand, employees are hungry for this valuable work/life option. On the other, a number of prominent companies that once embraced the virtual work option have pulled back, citing the desire for more immediacy and opportunities for serendipity. But for managers who are looking to get the most out of a remote policy, there are best practices to help their organizations succeed.

The Upside of Being a Woman Among ‘Bros’

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“Bro” culture in business and the institutional sexism it can breed are hot topics these days. But could there be situations where there is an advantage to being a woman in a workplace full of bros — men who form tight, in-group ties? New research on gender and leadership in the workplace looked at the willingness of managers to accept advice and feedback from subordinates. The findings: In certain circumstances, managers are actually more responsive to suggestions from the opposite gender.

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How to Catalyze Innovation in Your Organization

The authors’ research suggests that, rather than leaving the development of innovation to serendipity, executives should create collaborative contexts where innovation is likely to emerge from unpredictable pockets of creativity within an organization. By understanding and tapping the power of employee networks, executives can stimulate the creation of these kinds of collaborative environments.

Developing Innovative Solutions Through Internal Crowdsourcing

Internal crowdsourcing, which seeks to channel the ideas and expertise of the company’s own employees, allows employees to interact dynamically with coworkers in other locations, propose new ideas, and suggest new directions to management. Because many large companies have pockets of expertise and knowledge scattered across different locations, harnessing the cognitive diversity within organizations can open up rich new sources of innovation.

The Question Every Executive Should Ask

Gone are the days of centralized control of information and decision-making within organizations. With information now widely distributed among employees, Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard J. Tyson says today’s executives face a critical question: “How do I charge up the organization so that we’re maximizing the intellects of all of our people?”

The Need for Culture Neutrality

Companies today work with an incredibly diverse array of people. To thrive, these organizations need culturally neutral, globally coherent leadership standards. These standards should promote needed outcomes without prescribing behaviors, since some behaviors are outside of the cultural norms in some countries. Inevitably, significant advantage will accrue to companies that ready their people for truly global leadership.

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The Smart Way to Respond to Negative Emotions at Work

It is impossible to block negative emotions from the workplace. Whether provoked by bad decisions, misfortune, poor timing, or employees’ personal problems, no organization is immune from trouble. And trouble agitates bad feelings. However, in many workplaces, negative emotions are brushed aside; in some others, they are taboo. Unfortunately, the author’s research suggests that neither of these strategies is effective. Instead, insight and readiness are key to developing effective responses.

Embracing a Strategic Paradox

Within a business, opposing ideas typically lead to conflict and, in the face of conflicting demands, managers will feel anxiety, stress, and frustration. However, the authors’ research at Aeon Co. Ltd., one of Japan’s largest retailers, suggests that a positive approach to handling conflicts between opposing ideas can create new value for a company.

Protect Your Project From Escalating Doubts

Many big projects start off well, but then lose momentum and spiral downward as skeptical stakeholders withdraw support. Executives need to identify common triggers that spark stakeholder concerns — and take action to avert the ‘cycle of doubt’ that can ensue.

A New Era of Corporate Conversation

Social media technology is changing how managers and employees communicate and is breaking down traditional corporate heirarchy. To gain advantage from this trend, executives must recognize the value of dialogue and employees need to know that their leaders won’t punish them for expressing dissenting opinions. Executives will also need patience and a thick skin — but leaders who invest in truly open dialogue with their workforce will reap the long-term benefits.

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The Three New Skills Managers Need

As digital technologies evolve, managers and employees will need to learn three important skills: partnering with new digital “colleagues,” creating a mindful relationship with omnipresent digital technologies, and developing empathy for the varying technology preferences of their human coworkers. Organizations, for their part, will need to design processes to support these efforts, and managers will need to be both flexible and thoughtful in how they respond.

The 2016 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize

This year’s winning article is “Accelerating Projects by Encouraging Help,” by Fabian J. Sting, Christoph H. Loch, and Dirk Stempfhuber. The authors examine project planning and execution challenges and describe a case study of a company that designed a help process to encourage workers to seek and provide mutual assistance. The Beckhard Prize is awarded annually to the authors of the most outstanding MIT SMR article on planned change and organizational development.

Navigating the Leadership Challenges of Innovation Ecosystems

Certain kinds of product or process creations involve not just one player but many to ensure success. Organizations working toward this kind of innovation need to think about the project’s innovation ecosystem, which includes identifying co-innovators, structuring project leadership, and potentially modifying how success is defined. “All these things need to be negotiated within the coalition” notes Ron Adner of the Tuck School of Business — a process that’s often under-appreciated or ignored.

Learning the Art of Business Improvisation

The ability to innovate and rapidly respond to changes in the business environment is critical to competitiveness and success. Improvisation and experimentation combined with focus and flexibility are needed to identify new business opportunities and effectively execute projects. But while improvisation may seem to be spontaneous, managers can foster it through the deliberate development of certain processes and capabilities in an organization’s culture, team structure, and management practices.

Halting the Corporate Brain Drain

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Companies often don’t know what their employees’ experience contributes until employees leave, taking their unique knowledge assets with them. But digital tools have the potential to reshape the relationship between organizations and retiring employees. First, when used for collaboration, advanced social media platforms can record all interactions between employees and preserve them for later use. And second, digital platforms introduce the possibility of redefining the relationship companies have with retired staff.

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