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Talking About Sustainability Can Drive Sales: Lessons From a Casino Giant

Do consumers care enough about companies’ environmental and social practices to give them more business? Caesars Entertainment tested the question at one of its hotels, where one group of customers was told about its green efforts and the other group was told nothing. The casino company got encouraging results: The group who got the message spent 1.5% more. That group also recommended the hotel more enthusiastically.

Ethics as Conversation: A Process for Progress

Most organizations can agree on what questions to consider before making a decision about marketing, finance, or operations. But many stumble when the issue has ethical consequences. Leaders need to define what set of questions they want to consider when confronted with an issue that has ethical implications. Seven basic questions can get them started.

How Customer Obsession Creates Accountability for Change

Organizational change is difficult. Some 70% of change efforts fail, and awareness hasn’t improved the odds of success. But there are exceptional companies, making strides with everything from digital transformation to employee engagement to diversity and inclusion. And they have one thing in common: They are customer-obsessed. When customers are truly at the center of your business, change proceeds from one organizing principle: What’s best for them?

Act Like a Startup

As leaders of established businesses focus on becoming digital, they often embrace the mantra, act like a startup. A startup is an experiment, and its early goal is to learn, as quickly and inexpensively as possible, if an idea has merit. That same ability to figure out how a new value proposition might create revenues and profits is key to digital success. Established companies that want to test ideas for such propositions should be nurturing four traits of startups.

It’s Time to Make Paternity Leave Work

Longer life spans are the new normal, and many people alive today will live to be 100 years old. How will we use that time? One option: Rather than working full time for decades and then spending our later years with our grandchildren, we could redistribute some of that projected time from our 60s and 70s into our earlier decades and spend more of it with our children. For fathers in particular, this would be a radical life decision.

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How to Get Others to Adopt Your Recommendation

When a business is growing fast, decisions can get lost in the fray — especially if it’s unclear that a decision even needs to be made. People in the workplace bring recommendations to four audiences: a manager or top executive (those who approve a recommendation), and peers or a broader set of stakeholders (those who execute a recommendation). To sell an idea and get others to take action, you have to understand what your particular audience needs to hear.

Artificial Intelligence Brings Out the Worst and the Best in Us

As AI develops better decision-making skills, leaders may feel threatened and push back, resisting the imperative to leave their biggest and most critical decisions to mechanical minds. And that might be a mistake, says psychologist Daniel Kahneman, given AI’s potential to reduce the bias in human thought processes.

Game-Changing Strategies for Corporate Boards

The process of recruiting members to a board is often mistaken for the actual onboarding. Much is at stake in terms of legal and fiduciary responsibilities, but relatively little attention is paid to creating the conditions within the board to extract the distinctive knowledge of its new members. Three strategies can help boards do a better job leveraging the unique expertise of each board member.

Governments as Facilitators of Value Creation

There is a fundamental humanity to business institutions. Businesses are cooperative endeavors that leverage human work and creativity to create social value. Stable, functional, and purpose-driven businesses are key to real human flourishing. And yet many governments are expected to be neutral about business, acting as either redistributor or regulator. There is a third role, though: facilitator.

Let Your Digital Strategy Emerge

What can digital technologies do to help an organization solve customer problems? And what solutions will customers find valuable? It’s only when leaders wrestle with these questions that a digital strategy can emerge. To get there, organizations need to create a portfolio of business experiments and engage with customers to gain insight into their problems and potential solutions. The intersection between what’s possible and what’s desired is where a business will succeed.

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There’s Always a Time Lag (With a Price Tag)

Technology changes faster than society can keep up, a pattern now playing out with artificial intelligence. Many CEOs are taking a wait-and-see approach to AI, while others are anxious to barrel forward. In both cases, there’s little conversation about AI’s human costs. Incremental adaption makes it more likely that AI algorithms shared across organizations and geography are spreading their shortcomings. Leaders must act to mitigate these challenges if AI is to benefit society.

AI-Driven Leadership

Not many companies are there yet, but there’s a developing framework for what it takes to lead an AI-driven company. Leaders at the forefront of AI have seven key attributes: They learn the technologies; establish clear business objectives; set an appropriate level of ambition; look beyond pilots and proofs of concept; prepare people for the journey; get the necessary data; and orchestrate collaborative organizations.

Explaining the Business Case for Sustainability Again … and Again … and Again

The question “What’s the business case for sustainability?” has come roaring back over the last couple of years. It’s led, in part, by more intense investor focus on the issue: Financial execs are having to become more fluent in sustainability as investors grill them about how their companies are handling climate risks around supply chains and shifting regulatory landscapes and markets.

The Challenge of Scaling Soft Skills

We understand a lot about how to develop the “hard skills” of analysis, decision-making, and analytical judgment, but we know a great deal less about the genesis of “soft skills” like empathy, context sensing, collaboration, and creative thinking, which are becoming increasingly valuable in the workplace. Understanding the obstacles to developing these soft skills and then addressing those barriers is crucial for our schools, homes, and workplaces.

The High Cost of the Actions We Don’t Take

We can choose not to engage in improving the world. We can seize on every advantage available to us and our companies without thought to the consequences. We can act as if the planet and the global economy are not among our most critical stakeholders. We can join the crush of others who are just hoping to play out the string: keep our heads down, meet our numbers, collect our bonuses, and abdicate long-term responsibility to the next generation. But when we make those choices, we do violence against the future.

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Gender Discrimination Still Exists — Now What?

In both practice and research, we are doing a better job at bringing attention to the problem of gender bias. But we haven’t established enough tangible suggestions for how to challenge it. New research has begun to investigate the efficacy of ‘scripts’ — a set of words or phrases, such as, “Can you repeat what you just said?” that would signal to a peer that he has crossed a line, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

Business, Technology, and Ethics: The Need for Better Conversations

The fusion of business, technology, and ethics is unfolding at a rate that appears to outstrip our ability as citizens to have meaningful and careful conversations about the effects of our actions on others. At the same time, the civic processes that should encourage innovative solutions to new problems appear to be broken. What we need is a commitment to honestly talk about the challenges technology now poses.

Goodbye Structure; Hello Accountability

Companies will be able to operate as true digital organizations only when they learn how to respond quickly to unanticipated opportunities and threats. But instead of restructuring to increase agility, some organizations are assigning accountabilities for specific business outcomes to small teams or individual problem owners. Tackling new objectives is then built around individual flexibility, market-based resource allocation, experimental mindsets, and coaching rather than managing.

The Ability to Navigate the In-Between Spaces

Efforts to effectively connect decision-makers in large organizations across functions, divisions, and business units — not to mention with other companies, governments, and other external stakeholders — usually require organizational innovations. Several key leadership attributes are necessary for this to work. They include the ability to navigate the gaps not covered by specialists, a record of following through and getting things done, and knowledge of other cultures, including the ability to speak multiple languages.

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