Summer 2018 Issue
Volume 59, Issue # 4

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China’s New Innovation Threat

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The Changing Face of Innovation in China

Foreign companies must retool their R&D strategies to keep pace with newly innovative Chinese enterprises.

Abstract Globe With Glowing Networks - East Asia

Lessons From China’s Digital Battleground

This online exclusive article discusses why the dramatic rise of China’s digital leaders has put the squeeze on Western internet giants.

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Why High-Tech Commoditization Is Accelerating

Knowledge embedded in today’s production and design tools is a powerful force that is leveling the global technology playing field.

From the Editor

A Platform Greater Than Facebook

May 17, 2018 | Paul Michelman

Much has been made of the way online platforms have been used to manipulate Western political systems — but this is just one of many greater issues facing the modern world. It’s time for business leaders to insist on policies prioritizing humanitarian and environmental values.

Features

How Human-Computer ‘Superminds’ Are Redefining the Future of Work

As smart technologies embed deeper into human processes, a more powerful form of collaboration is emerging.

The Unique Challenges of Cross-Boundary Collaboration

Leading teams with complicated hierarchies of power demands both curiosity and humility.

If You Cut Employees Some Slack, Will They Innovate?

Giving people extra time and resources can boost innovation — but only if you match your “slack strategy” to employee type.

Building the Right Ecosystem for Innovation

Companies seeking tech alliances to stay competitive may benefit from an adaptive ecosystem model.

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Is HR Missing the Point on Performance Feedback?

HR’s move away from traditional performance reviews is a mistake that will backfire.

Managing the Distraction-Focus Paradox

Professional success in today’s hyper-connected workplace demands “distracted focus.”

The Mindsets of a Leader

A recent study found 6 distinct profiles of leadership based on the query, “Whom do they serve?”

Customer Relationships Evolve — So Must Your CRM Strategy

Customers relationships evolve. Understanding how is the key to tailoring your CRM strategy.

Frontiers

Exploring the Digital Future of Management

Beyond the Speed-Price Trade-Off

Advances in inventory and sales analytics make it possible to deliver products both cheaply and quickly.

What’s Your Cognitive Strategy?

While executives agree that cognitive technologies are a disruptive force, few companies have a strategy to address them.

Columns

Lessons From the Maker Movement

Frontiers |

March 27, 2018 | Simmi P. Singh

Companies can enhance their employees’ creativity and boost innovation by learning from the Maker Movement’s emphasis on creative learning, collaboration, fluidity, and novel play.

How Leaders Face the Future of Work

Some leaders have failed to realize that the daily lives of those who work in their organizations will inevitably be transformed over the coming decades. But it’s the responsibility of leaders to create clarity about the future of work. That means being engaged with creating a narrative about the future of jobs, actively championing the learning agenda, and role modeling work flexibility — for instance, by taking paternity leave or working from home.

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How Leaders Face the Future of Work

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 6 min 

Some leaders have failed to realize that the daily lives of those who work in their organizations will inevitably be transformed over the coming decades. But it’s the responsibility of leaders to create clarity about the future of work. That means being engaged with creating a narrative about the future of jobs, actively championing the learning agenda, and role modeling work flexibility — for instance, by taking paternity leave or working from home.

The Unique Challenges of Cross-Boundary Collaboration

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 8 min 

Technology has made business more globally connected than ever before. This is especially true for innovation projects, where diverse experts bring their specialized knowledge to play. But there’s a hitch: Many of today’s team projects have built-in hurdles because of differing communication styles, cultures, and professional norms. Leading this kind of “extreme teaming,” which often involves complicated hierarchies of power, demands both curiosity and humility.

The Changing Face of Innovation in China

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 19 min 

The art of bian lian — or “face changing” — is integral to Sichuan opera: A main character changes masks to avoid capture by foes. The transformation is quick and surprising, the new face clearly different. In the theater of business, Chinese performers are undergoing a rapid transformation of their own as they seek to evolve from backroom producers to the world’s leading face of innovation.

Why High-Tech Commoditization Is Accelerating

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 15 min 

Technology-intensive product manufacturers, automakers, or white goods makers used to be able to capitalize on their longstanding engineering and design leadership to cement their positions. But that’s no longer the case. Today, young upstarts in many product segments, especially from China, can develop world-class design and production capabilities in a short period of time. In some cases, they are closing gaps with long-established incumbents and becoming market leaders within a decade.

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The Mindsets of a Leader

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 14 min 

Researchers have identified six distinct mindsets that contribute to leaders’ portfolio of leadership styles by asking one simple question: Whom do the leaders serve? Identifying these mindsets can help companies recognize how the leader’s styles are helping — or hurting — their performance.

Managing the Distraction-Focus Paradox

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 7 min 

The seductive clamor of social media is a workplace reality from which there’s no retreat. Those who’ll succeed in this distraction-filled world as managers and innovators must combine two seemingly opposing traits: They must to be able to absorb information from many sources and to focus intensely. Together, these apparently contradictory qualities comprise the skill set for managing your most valuable personal resource — your attention — in a hyper-connected age.

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Building the Right Ecosystem for Innovation

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 16 min 

As digital disruption expands, many legacy businesses seek partnerships with tech companies to maintain competitiveness in the digital sphere. But instead of a centralized “hub” partnership, some companies find greater success through an adaptive ecosystem model, where partners develop significant projects or innovations together. This type of strategy requires imagination and flexibility.

Beyond the Speed-Price Trade-Off

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 7 min 

In response to increasing consumer demands for faster deliveries without added cost, more companies are implementing IT solutions that enable access to real-time sales data and inventory data across the whole enterprise. Real-time sales and inventory information, coupled with advanced analytics enables networks to accommodate fluctuations and changes in the business environment quickly, a quality the authors call distribution agility.

If You Cut Employees Some Slack, Will They Innovate?

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 11 min 

Giving people time and resources to pursue innovation projects can produce extraordinary outcomes — but only if you match your “slack strategy” to employee type. The authors found that different types of employees respond in different ways to slack innovation programs; that different kinds of slack resources are better suited to certain types of employees than others; and that different kinds of slack innovation programs produce different kinds of innovation.

Customer Relationships Evolve — So Must Your CRM Strategy

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 10 min 

Customer relationships can evolve through four stages — they can be transactional, transitional, communal, or damaged. Understanding each of these stages, using them to classify customer relationships, and tailoring CRM efforts accordingly can enable your company to better deploy its limited CRM dollars. Not all outreach efforts work equally well in all stages of a relationship. And without this kind of tailoring, you’re likely wasting some of your CRM budget.

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Converting Email From Drain to Gain

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 9 min 

To prevent email from feeling like a burden, teams should develop shared practices to enable it to help — not harm — employee productivity. This begins by developing an understanding of the relative effects of congruent vs. incongruent messages.

Can IT Be Too in Sync With Business Strategy?

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 6 min 

IT alignment can produce inertia — unless it’s accompanied by the right culture. Sure, closely aligning IT with the rest of a company’s strategy can cut costs and improve the ability to collect data, facilitating the creation of early-warning systems and operational dashboards. But a less regimented approach has its place, too, allowing responses to changing business and economic conditions that are swift and creative.

Is HR Missing the Point on Performance Feedback?

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 18 min 

Empirical evidence demonstrates the value of feedback and ratings for performance. But HR is moving away from traditional performance reviews because managers and employees say they don’t like them. It’s a mistake that will backfire.