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An Agenda for the Future of Global Business

For all of the uncertainty and anxiety in headlines today, the world is a much better place than it has ever been. In emerging markets, billions of people have moved out of extreme poverty. In the developed world, we enjoy better medicines, connectivity, and mobility than most of us could have imagined even 20 years ago. The promise of global progress has become a reality for many — but not for all. Our global narrative of progress, the implicit case for embracing change in exchange for its fruits, is being increasingly called into question by economically marginalized groups and populist politicians across the globe. This narrative has rested on three propositions: that globalization is a major driver of growth and prosperity; that technological progress enriches our lives; and that shareholder returns reflect businesses̵....
How Manufacturers Can Get Faster, More Flexible, and Cheaper

Meeting customers’ expectations for personalization and customization requires flexibility. And such flexibility can provide a distinct competitive advantage — as long as costs aren’t spiraling out of control. In a study of nearly 250 manufacturers over a 10-year period (2005–2015), we found that 78% of firms had improved their ability to fill their total actual market demand but had lost control over costs. Apparently, chasing the often elusive customer came at a cost that many boards and shareholders had somehow overlooked (or had discreetly discounted). We also found that 11% of the companies studied had suffered both a decrease in their demand fulfillment percentage and an increase in their conversion costs, the labor and overhead costs incurred when converting raw materials into finished g....
Your Team’s Time Management Problem Might Be a Focus Problem

“My team has a time management problem,” leaders often tell me. For example, an executive might say that their teams aren’t moving the needle on important projects, yet staffers seem busy and stressed. “Time management” becomes a catchall solution to this problem, and they want to hire me to offer tips and techniques on things like prioritizing and using their calendars better. What we soon uncover, however, is that the root of their team’s problems is not managing time, but managing attention. And these attention management issues are due not to a skills gap on the part of the employees, but to a wider cultural problem unintentionally reinforced, or at least tolerated, by senior leadership. Distraction is one of the biggest hurdles to high-quality knowledge work, costing almost 1 trilli....
A Better Way to Fight Discrimination in the Sharing Economy

The sharing economy has a discrimination problem. Studies have shown that the sharing economy isn’t as open as we think: People of color are discriminated against on platforms such as Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft. A study of ride-hailing platforms found that black passengers were subjected to longer wait times and higher cancelation rates than white passengers. A study of Airbnb found that guests with African-American-sounding names were 16% less likely to be accepted by hosts than guests with white-sounding names. Documenting and proving discrimination in the sharing economy has been a crucial first step, but the more difficult question is how to prevent it from happening in the first place. We believe we have found an answer. On Airbnb’s website, guests and hosts can rate each other, which turns out ....
What the Best Mentors Do

Mentorship comes in many flavors. It doesn’t always work unless leaders bear in mind a few common principles. Over the past three years, as part of my forthcoming book, I’ve been researching how leaders can better judge and develop their talent in light of a changing, more purpose-driven, more tech-enabled work environment. Having interviewed close to 100 of the most admired leaders across business, culture, arts, and government, one important characteristic stands out: They do everything they can to imprint their “goodness” onto others in ways that make others feel like fuller versions of themselves. Put another way, the best leaders practice a form of leadership that is less about creating followers and more about creating other leaders. How do they do that? I’ve noticed four things the best mentors do: Pu....
The 3 Simple Rules of Managing Top Talent

The general view in business is that top-end talent is highly sensitive to and motivated by compensation and that big monetary rewards are key to their management. There is a grain of truth to this — but only a grain. In my 36-year career, I haven’t met a single person truly at the top end of the talent distribution who is highly motivated by compensation. Not one. Sure, I’ve met lots of successful people who are highly motivated by compensation: CEOs who pump up the perceived value of their company to sell it, hedge fund managers who destroy companies for short-term gain, investment bankers who get their clients to acquire companies they shouldn’t to earn big fees, consultants who sell their clients work that they don’t need, and me-first athletes who poison their teams. But none are the kind of top-en....
What Great Managers Do

Exceptional managers find and capitalize on their employees’ unique strengths. Learn how they do it with this 6 minute video slide deck. Download a customizable version in Subscriber Exclusives.
To Achieve a Major Goal, First Tackle a Few Small Ones

One of the difficulties with achieving great things is knowing how to get there. Every book you read was written by someone who completed a book. Every concert you attend involves musicians who can play well enough to be onstage. You can see the final product, but you can’t see all of the steps required to get there. A lot of discussions about how to achieve significant goals focus on grit, that combination of resilience and persistence that is required to stick with a big goal and see it to completion. But there are two aspects of achieving big goals that don’t get as much attention despite their importance for success. First, it is hard to envision the specific tasks that actually need to get done to achieve a big goal. No matter how well you plan for a big task, there are certain details that are not obvious until you have....
The Entry-Level Health Care Jobs Men Are (and Are Not) Taking

Since the 1970s the United States has shifted away from a manufacturing economy and toward a service-sector economy. This shift has been difficult for many workers, but especially for working-class men, who have been hurt by the loss of manufacturing and production jobs that have traditionally provided better wages, benefits, and job security than service-sector jobs. Indeed, the percentage of men working in manufacturing and production jobs — jobs that used to be “good jobs” for men without a college degree — has declined by over 50% since the 1970s, and men’s wages have dropped over the same time period. At the same time, there has been a rise in service-sector occupations, many of which are female-dominated health care occupations, such as registered nurses, home health aides, and personal care ....
4 Ways CEOs Can Conquer Short-Termism

In a recent survey, 70% of respondents said that CEOs focus too much on short-term financial results, and nearly 60% said that they don’t focus enough on positive long-term impact. These findings mirror the growing chorus of voices in business and academia that point to short-termism as being a major threat to business. It’s easy to fault CEOs for being too fixated on the short term. However, we believe that most CEOs don’t lack good intent. Rather, they’re missing a practical road map to beat back short-termism and build enduring firms — ones that deliver superior economic returns, make positive contributions to society, and inspire public trust. We offer such a roadmap here, the outcome of a research project, at the Center for Higher Ambition Leadership, with 25 CEOs and their practices....
The Growing Conflict-of-Interest Problem in the U.S. Congress

While concerns about conflicts of interest regarding President Trump’s business holdings have received a lot of attention, resulting in proposed legislation to end loopholes for the commander in chief, there has been much less discussion of another source of conflicting interests: the investments of members of Congress. Congresspeople in both political parties have substantial holdings in firms their legislative actions affect — and this number has grown substantially in recent years. While roughly 20% of lawmakers owned stock in 2001, that number had more than doubled by 2013. As of the most recent data (2014 from the Senate and 2016 from the House), over half of Congress owns stock, many with holdings in excess of $100,000 in stocks alone, not to mention mutual funds and other forms of investments. In addition, as....
Chinese and American Consumers Have Different Ideas About What Makes a Product Creative

When consumers believe a product is creative, they are more likely to like, share, and buy it. And yet not everyone agrees on what “creativity” looks like. Jeffrey Loewenstein and I recently published a study examining the features that indicate whether a product is creative in the world’s two largest economies, the U.S. and China. We found that the two countries had different views of what made a product creative. For example, the kind of product that an American loves and finds highly creative might seem trivial to a Chinese person. In contrast, the kind of product that a Chinese person finds creative might lack distinctiveness to an American. All products have a constellation of features; we identified 26 cues that at least one of the two cultures nominated as relevant to creativity. To understand....
If Democrats Want to Challenge Trump, They Need a New Strategy

The moment that Donald Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States, the Democratic Party became the weakest, in terms of elected offices held, it has been in the entire history of the United States. While Republicans in Congress have begun to show some interest in investigating the Trump campaign’s pre-election ties to Russia, it remains the case that party competition, not the checks and balances among branches of the government, is the most important restraint on the power of the president. That means that Democrats in Congress, weak as they might be, are the only major obstacle between Trump and total control of the United States government. I’m a political scientist and business school professor who has written a book on American presidents and “unfiltered” leaders exactly like Trump....
Why We Need to Stop Obsessing Over CEO Pay Ratios

The numbers are striking. In 2015 U.S. CEOs earned 335 times the pay of the average worker. In the U.K. they earn 129 times more; the High Pay Centre marked “Fat Cat Wednesday” (January 4, 2017) as the day by when a CEO has already earned more than an average worker earns in the entire year. This ratio is the number one piece of evidence that executive pay is excessive and the number one statistic that advocates of pay reform argue should be fixed. Accordingly, the Dodd–Frank Act is forcing U.S. firms to disclose this ratio from this year; the U.K. is contemplating similar legislation. The world’s largest investor, BlackRock, wants to move beyond simply disclosing pay ratios, to capping the ratio of some forms of pay. It recently wrote to over 300 UK companies to say it would only approve salar....
Globalization: Myth and Reality

Pankaj Ghemawat, professor at NYU Stern and IESE business schools, debunks common misconceptions about the current state and extent of globalization. (Hint: the world is not nearly as globalized as people think.) He also discusses how popular reactions in Europe and the U.S. against globalization recently could affect the global economy, and how companies will need to adapt to the new reality. Ghemawat is the author of several books on globalization, including World 3.0 and most recently The Laws of Globalization and Business Applications. Download this podcast
Assessment: How Successful Was Your Company’s Reorg?

Has your firm recently undergone a reorg? If so, you’re in good company. Reorganizations, or reorgs, are a common business practice. And with change accelerating in almost any industry you can think of, we expect them to become more and more common. Think about the disruption being caused by electric and autonomous cars in automotive; by regulatory challenges in banking; by shale resources in oil and gas; and by a groundswell of public dissatisfaction in political institutions, to name just a few. All will require companies — and governments — to rethink the ways they are organized. Did your reorg meet your expectations? If not, again, you’re in good company. Reorgs can deliver significant value, yet they often cause misery. Some academic studies suggest that the psychological impact ....
3 Ways to Get More Done Right Now

Cat Yu for HBR When I need to get something done in a hurry, I use three time management tactics to maximize my available time and sharpen my focus. For instance, when I returned home last year from my active duty military deployment, I had to quickly readjust to my corporate job and get up to speed with team priorities and deadlines. Meanwhile, my side hustle as a professional music producer was calling. I had limited time to record my next project, a jazz opera about the European financial crisis, or I risked having to wait several months to find a date that worked for the musicians and studio. In just two months I drove meaningful revenue for my corporation as well as successfully recorded 25 musicians and singers. Here is how I did it: Go On a News Diet On November 9th I turned off the CNN feed on my computer;....
Research: Arab Inventors Make the U.S. More Innovative

From Hassan Kamel Al-Sabbah, a Lebanese-born American serial inventor, to Ahmed Zewail, the 1999 Nobel laureate in chemistry, to Farouk El-Baz, a NASA and MIT scientist who helped plan the Apollo landing, to Elias A. Zerhouni, the 15th director of the National Institutes of Health, Arab immigrants have made major contributions to American science and technology. As the Trump administration attempts to limit immigration from several Arab states, these contributions deserve extra attention. The problem is that to date there has been little work to document the extent of Arab contributions to American innovation. We recently set out to remedy that, and our analysis suggests that Arab inventors play a major role in U.S. innovation. They also contribute significantly to the success of major U.S. tech companies. To shed more lig....
How to Handle Interrupting Colleagues

You’re giving a presentation on the company’s strategic direction when one of your colleagues interrupts you. You pause, address his question, and continue with your point — until he interrupts again. Sound familiar? All of us have known colleagues, friends, or romantic partners who seem unable to let us finish a sentence. How do you handle them effectively? There are a number of tactics. But it is important to understand when and why people interrupt others. Different cultural norms. At the beginning of my relationship with my husband, I constantly interrupted him. Knowing that I love arguments based on data and good evidence, he showed up for one of our dates with a printout of a research paper titled “Overlapping Talk and the Organization of Turn-Taking for Conversation.” The firs....
What Mark Zuckerberg Understands About Corporate Purpose

Last week Mark Zuckerberg published a strong defense of both globalization and Facebook’s business model. In a nearly 6,000-word letter, he argued persuasively that Facebook thrives under a globalized socioeconomic system, where barriers to information, labor, capital, and products are minimal. Research by myself and others has shown that purposeful organizations outperform their competitors; in his letter Zuckerberg is clearly attempting to outline a sense of purpose for Facebook. But research also suggests that people have a large degree of cynicism toward business leaders who speak about purpose. Senior management tends to have a greater sense of purpose than middle management, who in turn have a greater sense of purpose than lower-level employees. Senior management may try to cultivate a sense of purpose, bu....
Why Boards Aren’t Dealing with Cyberthreats

One of the greatest challenges facing boards today is the one directors feel least prepared for: cybersecurity. Yahoo’s disclosure in December of what could be the largest data breach in history was hardly an isolated incident. Indeed, the Guardian dubbed 2016 the “year of the hack,” and cyberthreats are increasingly common across all sectors. In previous work we found that cybersecurity ranked as a top political issue for corporate directors, trailing only the economy and the regulatory environment. Directors acknowledge cybersecurity as an urgent global issue, but are failing to make the connection between the pervasiveness of cyberthreats and their companies’ vulnerabilities. When we asked them to describe their levels of concern and readiness for various risks to their companies, cybersecurity took a back....
“Poor Communication” Is Often a Symptom of a Different Problem

Do employees complain that your company suffers from a lack of communication? That the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing? Maybe the one doing the complaining is you. Or perhaps, as many companies do, you conducted an employee engagement survey and “lack of communication” emerged as a top gripe. I’d like to suggest that this problem may not be what it seems. To understand why, we need to understand that feelings emerge from the activity of the motivational system, the brain regions that engage your goals and drive you to act. And much of the circuitry of the motivational system involves centers deep in the brain that are not well-connected to the areas of the cortex responsible for our ability to be introspective about our actions. Consequently, the source of our feelings is not always clear ....
Why Self-Improvement Should Be a Group Activity

Continuous personal development is fundamental to career growth, professional satisfaction, and having a broader impact in the world. And while the self-help industry and leadership professions have made a fortune on our obsession with getting better, failure rates remain alarmingly high. In one survey, of more than 1,000 people who’d set goals for personal development, more than 96% of them failed. Another source suggests that 80% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by February. Why so much failure? It may be due to a lack of commitment or to choosing development areas that are overly corrective (such being more punctual or learning to control your temper) rather than focusing on strengths (such as running a faster mile or finding new ways to apply your keen analytical skill). You and Your Team Series Improving....
Call Length Is the Worst Way to Measure Customer Service

Practitioners and pundits alike have long debated which metric is best for assessing the performance of a service organization. Is the silver bullet customer satisfaction, net promoter score, customer effort score, or some other measure? While this debate is unlikely to be settled anytime soon, we’d submit that there’s no question what the worst metric is for service: average handle time (AHT), which is principally a measure of call length, or, more simply, talk time. AHT has been around for almost as long as the telephone itself. Given that the service department is a cost center in most companies, service leaders have long relied on AHT as a critical lever for keeping staffing levels, and therefore costs, in check. It’s not surprising that the metric figures prominently on a service rep’s scorecard. It̵....
To Increase Vaccination Rates, Share Information on Disease Outbreaks

The medical community has repeatedly debunked the myth that vaccines cause autism and condemned those who have promoted it. Yet vaccines continue to make the news. So in order to more effectively challenge misguided positions on vaccine safety, it’s important to understand why they persist despite the medical community’s attempts to assuage the concerns of skeptical parents. The theory linking vaccines and autism was ignited by a long-discredited paper, but it persists because of people’s fear of the unknown: Scientists don’t fully understand what causes autism. Consider why no one believes vaccines cause heart attacks, strokes, or obesity; the biological mechanisms behind these diseases are relatively well understood. But with autism, mystery breeds conspiracy. To understand the true causes of auti....

TECHNALINK HIGHLIGHTS
The OM Factor received the prestigious honor of the Bronze Medal from The Axiom Business Book Awards as one of the best business books of 2016.
  

In celebration of women role models in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), STEMconnectortm unveils in hard copy and online its inaugural 100 Women Leaders in STEM publicatin. The heroines included in 100 Women Leaders in STEM share stories about their commitment to serving as mentors and sponsors of those who are next in the stem jobs pipline.
           
Mclean, VA - Technalink, Inc. is excited to announce that Alka Dhillon, Founder & Chief Executive Officer has been selected as a winner for the 2012 BRAVA! Women Business Achievement Award Presented by SmartCEO.
    
Alka Dhillon, Founder and CEO, Technalink (McLean,VA) Recognized as one of the leading female CEOs in the Washington, DC, area, Ms. Dhillon is known for her irrepressible entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for giving back to the community.

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