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Basic Competence Can Be a Strategy

harvardbusiness.org - 24 August 2017
Raffaella Sadun, a professor at Harvard Business School, explains why seemingly common-sensical management practices are so hard to implement. After surveying thousands of organizations across the world, she found that only 6% of firms qualified as highly well-managed — and that managers mistakenly assumed they were all above average. She is a co-author of “Why Do We Undervalue Competent Management?” in the September–October 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review.
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Google's Secret Formula for Management? Doing the Basics Well

harvardbusiness.org - 24 August 2017
Google has opened its trove of management processes to one and all, for free. It might not feel that surprising — after all, Google has created plenty of free tools for the world to use, from internet search to email. Management tools may not seem that different. And it also follows Google’s many years of work in people analytics.
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Do Lawyers Make Better CEOs Than MBAs?

harvardbusiness.org - 24 August 2017
The bad news keeps coming for Wells Fargo. A nearly $150 million settlement is pending for the fake-account scandal that roiled the bank last year, and a new scandal has emerged: Recently it has been alleged that thousands of customers were signed up for insurance without their knowledge. A bevy of lawsuits is in the pipeline, and regulatory scrutiny is intensifying. Meanwhile, one of Well Fargo’s chief competitors, Bank of America, has been relatively scandal free, with impressive revenue and profit results for the first half of 2017. What explains the divergence in the fortunes of two of the U.S.’s largest banks?
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Research Shows Good Management Is Incredibly Hard to Copy

harvardbusiness.org - 23 August 2017
Don't underestimate the importance of basic competence.
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3 Ways Companies Are Building a Business Around AI

harvardbusiness.org - 23 August 2017
There is no argument about whether artificial intelligence (AI) is coming. It is here, in automobiles, smartphones, aircraft, and much else. Not least in the online search abilities, speech and translation features, and image recognition technology of my employer, Alphabet.
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Worries About Short-Termism Are 40 Years Old, but Are They Overblown?

harvardbusiness.org - 23 August 2017
The idea that companies face enormous pressure to deliver short-term results at the expense of long-term health is widespread among executives. McKinsey’s Dominic Barton has made the case, as has BlackRock’s Larry Fink. Politicians like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden have warned against short-termism, as have scholars at Brookings and the American Enterprise Institute. McKinsey has made its case empirically, finding evidence linking long-term management to superior financial performance. In 2015 Rotman’s Roger Martin reviewed the evidence on both sides here at HBR and explained why he believed short-termism is a problem.
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How to Keep Email from Ruining Your Vacation

harvardbusiness.org - 23 August 2017
It’s vacation season, which means that millions of people will be hitting the road for some well-earned time off. But for far too many, even though they’ll be away from the office, they’ll still be taking their work along on vacation with them. And that’s made all the easier, of course, by the fact that we can now carry our entire work lives with us right in our pockets. Our phones and devices can summon us — and our attention — whenever and wherever. But that defeats the whole purpose of vacation. If you’re simply moving your job from an office tower to somewhere sandier, that’s no vacation at all.
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Why CEOs Can't Stay Silent in the Wake of Events Like Charlottesville

harvardbusiness.org - 21 August 2017
The last week has been filled with the disconcerting aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, leaving many business leaders to wonder how they should react — what they should tell their employees and customers.
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What the Science Actually Says About Gender Gaps in the Workplace

harvardbusiness.org - 17 August 2017
Former Google engineer James Damore was hardly the first person to argue that biological differences between men and women determine career outcomes. Many people — even smart, science-minded ones — have asserted that biological differences can explain the gender gap in math, engineering, and science. A 2005 Gallup poll found that 21% of Americans believed men were better than women in terms of their math and science abilities (though 68% believed men and women were about the same). The fact that this argument keeps coming up means that we need to engage with it and clarify which claims are supported by evidence and which are not.
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5 Questions to Help Your Employees Find Their Inner Purpose

harvardbusiness.org - 17 August 2017
How can leaders help employees find meaning at work? Organizations spend considerable resources on corporate values and mission statements, but even the most inspiring of these - from Volvo's commitment to safety to Facebook's desire to connect people - tend to fade into the background during the daily bustle of the work day. What workers really need, to feel engaged in and satisfied by their jobs, is an inner sense of purpose.
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What 11 CEOs Have Learned About Championing Diversity

harvardbusiness.org - 17 August 2017
The business case for diversity is clear. Diversity can boost innovation and employee engagement, and companies with greater gender and racial diversity financially outperform their peers. Yet progress within organizations has been slow – there is still a lack of women and minorities in leadership positions, and certain industries like tech and finance are lacking diversity at all levels. And many diversity programs fail. Based on evidence that diversity initiatives are more effective if they start at the top, I interviewed 11 CEOs who have made a public commitment to diversity about how they are creating more diverse workforces.
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It's Time to Tie Executive Compensation to Sustainability

harvardbusiness.org - 17 August 2017
Despite conflicting messages about climate change from U.S. government leaders, sustainability is getting more and more attention at American companies. Shareholders are ratcheting up their demands on environmental and social issues. Consumers are registering their concerns about how companies make their products. And talented Millennial employees are voting with their feet by leaving laggard companies behind. Meanwhile, new technologies are making it easier for sustainability investments to pay off in the middle to long term.
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How Gatorade Invented New Products by Revisiting Old Ones

harvardbusiness.org - 17 August 2017
When it comes to innovation, businesses have a strong bias for the new. The idea of creating a fresh new product, the prospect of increasing market share with brand new offerings, or the vision of disrupting some slow-moving incumbent with a radical new technology – these have an inherently strong appeal for companies keen for growth. What’s more, legacy products seem to be at a natural disadvantage. Company leaders and product managers worry that these core products have been around for years and may not be able to deliver much more. How will they perform well enough for us to meet our targets?
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Whiteboard Session: Clashing with a Coworker? Here's What to Do

harvardbusiness.org - 16 August 2017
These 4 steps will help you resolve conflicts, whether you're a seeker or an avoider.
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The Dark Side of Resilience

harvardbusiness.org - 16 August 2017
Resilience, defined as the psychological capacity to adapt to stressful circumstances and to bounce back from adverse events, is a highly sought-after personality trait in the modern workplace. As Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant argue in their recent book, we can think of resilience as a sort of muscle that contracts during good times and expands during bad times.
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To Come Up with a Good Idea, Start by Imagining the Worst Idea Possible

harvardbusiness.org - 16 August 2017
There are many creative tools a designer uses to think differently, but none is more counter-intuitive than “wrong thinking,” also called reverse thinking. Wrong thinking is when you intentionally think of the worst idea possible — the exact opposite of the accepted or logical solution, ideas that can get you laughed at or even fired — and work back from those to find new ways of solving old problems.
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Is Tesla Really a Disruptor? (And Why the Answer Matters)

harvardbusiness.org - 16 August 2017
Tesla, Elon Musk’s automotive start-up, is having a very good year. In September, the company expects to begin shipping its all-electric Model 3 to non-employee customers, who have already logged 500,000 pre-orders. After reporting earnings earlier this month, its stock jumped, rocketing the 14-year-old startup’s valuation to over $53 billion, ahead of every other U.S. car manufacturer and all but three worldwide. This despite the fact that the company lost nearly two billion dollars in the past two years alone.
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Help Employees Create Knowledge - Not Just Share It

harvardbusiness.org - 15 August 2017
Many leaders see organizational learning simply as sharing existing knowledge. This isn’t surprising given that this is the primary focus of educational institutions, training programs, and leadership development courses. It’s the “sage on the stage” model, in which an expert shares what they know with those who are assumed not to know it. These “best practices” are presumed to work in a variety of different contexts and situations.
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How One Insurance Firm Learned to Create an Innovation Culture

harvardbusiness.org - 15 August 2017
More and more companies are realizing they must reinvent their cultures by infusing innovation into their DNA. Unlike startups that get to shape culture from scratch, established companies must transform existing norms, values, and assumptions in ways that inspire everyone to innovate — not just at the top of the organization, but at all levels.
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How Freelancers Can Make Sure They Get Paid on Time

harvardbusiness.org - 15 August 2017
One of the most stressful things about being self-employed is managing your cash flow. This is especially difficult when clients don’t pay you on time. What can you do to make sure that your invoices are handled promptly? And if a client is late, how should you address it, especially if you want to work with this company again? Is there ever a point at which you need to involve a lawyer?
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Study: More Frequent Sales Quotas Help Volume but Hurt Profits

harvardbusiness.org - 14 August 2017
Firms often struggle with finding the best way to motivate their salesforce. How much of a rep’s compensation should consist of a fixed salary and how much should be based on commission? Should commissions be capped? What’s the effectiveness of bonuses and other incentives? And so on. While past quantitative research has investigated some of these issues, in our recent study we focused on an under-researched aspect of salesforce compensation: sales quotas. More specifically, what should be the appropriate frequency of quotas—for example, daily or monthly?
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Assessment: Are You Taking the Time Off That You Need?

harvardbusiness.org - 14 August 2017
We all know we should take time away from work. But too often we let our constant busyness and the threat of looming deadlines keep us from going on vacations. This has consequences for our stress levels, our teams, and our organizations. It also costs us. According to research by Project: Time Off, an organization that studies vacation time in the U.S., most Americans don’t use all of their vacation days. In 2016 alone, U.S. employees ended up forfeiting the equivalent of $66.4 billion in time off. This means that, last year, Americans effectively donated an average of $604 to their employers.
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When Male Unemployment Rates Rise, So Do Sexual Harassment Claims

harvardbusiness.org - 14 August 2017
Despite all the mandatory trainings on sexual harassment that have taken place in American workplaces over the last two decades, the problem seems to be getting worse. Sex discrimination claims made to the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are up about 10% in the last 20 years. Some of that is surely due to increased reporting, but some is also the result of changing gender dynamics in society. Women’s progress towards economic parity may present a threat to the way that men understand their own roles in their workplaces and in society in general, and sex discrimination is one way for them to assert their dominance. To test this theory, I analyzed EEOC and Bureau of Labor Statistics data and found that sex discrimination spikes when men fall behind women in the workforce.
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Why We Prefer Dominant Leaders in Uncertain Times

harvardbusiness.org - 11 August 2017
We are witnessing a worldwide surge in a certain type of leader claiming the highest offices of power — leaders who are confident, controlling, and strongly hierarchical. Indian voters elected the dominant Narendra Modi into power in 2014, Britain’s Nigel Farage saw his sharply argued views endorsed during the 2016 Brexit campaign, Donald Trump was elected president of the U.S. in 2016 after repeatedly promising to be “strong,” and autocratic Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was reelected this year. The question is: Why are voters choosing this type of leader now? Our research (recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) attempts to answer this by focusing on when and why such leaders ascend to leadership roles.
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PE Firms Are Creating a New Role: Leadership Capital Partner

harvardbusiness.org - 11 August 2017
During the last 20 years, private equity (PE) investors have assumed an increasingly influential role in business, with publicly traded firms dropping from about 7,500 to 3,800. Today, large private equity firms not only buy and sell (phase 1), buy and hold (phase 2), but buy and transform (phase 3). This third phase has led to large private equity organizations governing their assets in a unique way.
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What One Company Learned from Forcing Employees to Use Their Vacation Time

harvardbusiness.org - 11 August 2017
Have you ever felt burned out at work after a vacation? I’m not talking about being exhausted from fighting with your family at Walt Disney World all week. I’m talking about how you knew, the whole time walking around Epcot, that a world of work was waiting for you upon your return.

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