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Why Innovators Should Study the Rise and Fall of the Venetian Empire

Most organizations would be happy to last for centuries, as the Venetian Republic did. From 697 to 1797 AD, Venice’s technological acumen, geographic position, and unconventionality were interlocking advantages that allowed the Most Serene Republic to flourish. But when change comes suddenly, it can turn strengths into weaknesses and sweep away even thousand-year success stories. Venice’s military technology and the city’s pivotal location on the main trade routes of the time gave Venice several strong, mutually reinforcing advantages. The Arsenal, an advanced naval munitions factory that anticipated by several centuries the production-line method of manufacture, was the beating heart of the Venetian naval industry. From the thirteenth century on, the Arsenal nurtured creativity and spurred innovation and entr....
Saying “No” to an Idea Doesn’t Have to Lead to Conflict - SPONSOR CONTENT FROM HBX

By Patrick Mullane, Executive Director, HBX If you, like me, have children, you’ve probably become convinced that the most common word in the English language is “no.” In fact, you may have concluded that “no” is the perfect sentence unto itself— no modifiers, adverbs, or adjectives needed. It’s always on the tip of the tongue with offspring around, no matter the question. “Dad, can I …” “NO!” The word is also one that children learn to use frequently because of how prolific we parents are in uttering it. It is among the most common first words an infant says. They say it to siblings, to us, and to playmates. It’s just so easy to say—until, that is, we become adults in the working world.   Read more from HBX:   What to Do....
How to Deliver Criticism So Employees Pay Attention

In my college days I ranked among the top 10 women divers in the United States. I got that far not just because I worked hard — practicing every day in four-to-six-hour sessions — but also because I had an extremely tough coach who routinely offered both caring support and sharp criticism. Early in our relationship he explained how it would work: “When I stop yelling is when you’d better start to worry.” And I understood: Because he believed in me, he would push me — hard. Strategies for coaching athletes don’t always work for executives trying to manage employees. But when it comes to delivering criticism, I do think some best practices translate. Used correctly, criticism can improve performance, enhance trust and respect, and advance the achievement of mutual goals. Used incorrectly,....
How Managers Can Make Group Projects More Efficient

We may have hit a saturation point when it comes to collaboration. Consider the following: Research out of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce shows that time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more over the last two decades. A recent article in The Economist called this trend the “collaboration curse,” asserting that “making employees collaborate has gone too far.” Research has found that although some teams have a collaborative culture, they are not skilled in the practice of collaboration itself. The authors of that research, Lynda Gratton and Tamara Erickson, noted that “[people] were encouraged to cooperate, and they wanted to cooperate, but they didn̵....
What Matters More to Your Workforce than Money

Economists have long argued that money doesn’t buy happiness. But compensation is still a major factor for us when we’re considering where to work. What do we know about how more pay influences employees’ motivations? That slice of information can be the difference between a workforce that is satisfied and productive and one that isn’t — costing the business money in the long run. As the chief economist at Glassdoor, my role is to help unearth some of the driving forces behind job seekers’ decisions: why they choose the jobs they do, what matters to them at work, and what causes them to love — or despise — their company or manager. Money Can’t Buy Happiness At Glassdoor we have a unique window into the labor market, as we use reviews and salary ....
How Mindfulness Helped a Workplace Diversity Exercise

A couple of years ago I was invited to facilitate an offsite training for the diversity committee of a Fortune 500 company. In an era in which “diversity” has become a buzzword in the business world, the firm’s interest in the topic was both admirable and understandable. Research shows that having an inclusive and diverse workforce is associated with creativity and innovation, and exposure to racial diversity has been linked to greater problem-solving skills and expanded perspective. The diversity committee, which had been meeting for about six months, seemed interested in trying something new. I was told that they invited me to lead the session precisely because I wasn’t a “diversity trainer.” Yet I was reluctant to accept the invitation. As a corporate psychologist with training in mindfulness, I hav....
The 3 Company Crises Boards Should Watch For

When an organization fails because of executive malfeasance, it generates a lot of attention. But such situations are actually relatively rare. It’s much more common, though less talked about, for organizations to fail because of ungoverned incompetence. That is, someone does the wrong thing while trying to do the right thing, and organizational systems fail to catch it and contain it. This becomes more likely as the organization takes on strategic risk — through innovation, mergers and acquisitions, or because its environment is becoming more volatile. Boards that focus on problem-finding put their organizations on safer footing. Problem-finding boards establish structures and processes that prevent many problems from arising and stifle nascent problems quickly and effectively. Problem-finding boards understan....
How to Turn an Interim Role into a Permanent Job

Congratulations! Your organization has just informed you that you have been appointed to a new interim role, and that if you are successful the actual job will be yours. You immediately experience feelings that are powerful but mixed: Getting this interim role is a meaningful validation of your contributions, talent, and potential, but why the trial period? Couldn’t they have given you the job without it being “interim?” Is the actual job yours to win or yours to lose? Will you get the support you need to succeed? You may think that the interim role is putting you in a Catch-22-like situation: You have to prove that you can be successful in order to get the actual job, but uncertainty undermines your status and challenges your ability to succeed. Here are some suggestions for increasing the likelihood of your success in....
Survey: People’s Trust Has Declined in Business, Media, Government, and NGOs

We are living in an era of backlash against authority. So far, government and the media have borne the brunt of populist anger, while businesses have remained above the fray. Past protest movements such as Occupy Wall Street notwithstanding, mass outrage has yet to be directed squarely at the business elite. But there are signs that this is changing. For 17 years the Edelman Trust Barometer has surveyed tens of thousands of people across dozens of countries about their level of trust in business, media, government, and NGOs. This year was the first time the study found a decline in trust across all four of these institutions. In almost two-thirds of the 28 countries we surveyed, the general population did not trust the four institutions to “do what is right” — the average level of trust in all four institution....
3 Ways Data Dashboards Can Mislead You

Executives love dashboards, and why wouldn’t they? Single-screen “snapshots” of operational processes, marketing metrics, and key performance indicators (KPIs) can be visually elegant and intuitive. They show just-in-time views of what’s working and what isn’t — no need to wait for weekly or monthly reports from a centralized data center. A quick scan of a dashboard gives frontline managers transparency and, ideally, the opportunity to make rapid adjustments. But dashboards aren’t the magic view some managers treat them as. Although they can convey snapshots of important measures, dashboards are poor at providing the nuance and context that effective data-driven decision making demands. Data analytics typically does a few things: describes existing or past phenomena predicts future events b....
Evidence That Minorities Perform Worse Under Biased Managers

There is a growing body of research showing that minorities face bias in the job application process. When identical resumes — one with the name Emily and one with the name Lakisha, for example — are sent to job openings, Emily’s resume gets substantially more callbacks. And even with the same credentials as other candidates, minorities are less likely to be hired. But we know considerably less about how bias plays out when minorities are hired, especially when it comes to on-the-job performance and productivity. Recent research I conducted along with Dylan Glover and William Pariente, forthcoming in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, attempts to address this gap. We find that when managers hold negative beliefs, even unconscious ones, about minority workers, minority employees perform much worse than they do with....
How to Tell Your Boss You Have Too Much Work

These days it seems like most people have too much on their plate. Everyone complains about feeling overworked. So how do you tell your boss you simply have too much to do? No one wants to come across as lazy, uncommitted, or not a team player. How can you protect your image as a hard worker while saying uncle? What the Experts Say No matter how busy you are, it can feel exceedingly difficult to talk to your boss about your heavy workload. The reason is twofold, according to Julie Morgenstern, productivity expert and author of Never Check E-Mail in the Morning. First, you may worry that by saying something you’re going to lose your job. “In the bottom of your belly is this feeling that if you can’t handle the work, there’s someone else who can; you feel dispensable,” she says. Second, “the na....
True Leaders Believe Dissent Is an Obligation

These are head-spinning times for those of us who think about the best ways to lead and the most effective ways to compete. What defines acceptable personal behavior (let alone behavior worth emulating) among public officials? Why would executives at so many iconic organizations — Volkswagen, Wells Fargo, FIFA — tolerate behavior so egregious that it threatens the very future of their organizations? How should innovators with a fierce sense of ambition handle the criticisms and objections that inevitably come their way and make sure that confidence does not turn into bombast? In a world hungry for great leadership, these are just a few of the questions that too many leaders seem incapable of answering. I don’t pretend to have easy answers myself. But I do know that the best leaders I’ve studied — executives ....
How the Attacks on Trump Reinforce His Strategy

One of the tricky things about strategy is that good strategies end up seeming inevitable, and that makes them difficult to analyze. After the fact, we have trouble distinguishing cause from effect, or strategic choices from good luck — and as a result, we draw suspect lessons from the exercise. This is especially true when the success in question was a surprising one. For a sterling example, look no further than Donald Trump. Ex-post-facto rationalizing has portrayed his rise as being largely the result of Hillary Clinton’s strategic fumbles (not enough campaigning in the Rust Belt) and bad luck (James Comey). In this telling, Trump won the election not through his own actions but because he happened to be up against a particularly incompetent opponent. Another line of thinking argues that Trump’s win was a f....
What to Do When You Make a Mistake at Work - SPONSOR CONTENT FROM HBX

By Patrick Mullane, Executive Director, HBX Well, that hurt. Twenty years ago, I was standing in my commander’s office as he told me in muted tones that I had not handled something well. He was a leader I really looked up to, and knowing I had disappointed him made his delivery even more painful—I almost wished he would just yell. About an hour earlier, during a tension-filled exercise, I had told his boss, in front of probably 50 others, to keep quiet while the team I managed tried to work out a problem in preparation for an intelligence satellite launch. I was a 26-year-old Air Force captain at the time. My boss was a 40-something colonel, and his boss was a 50-something senior official from the CIA. Needless to say, the CIA manager was not happy with my calling him out during an exercise. And he let my boss know it.  ....
How Investors React When Companies Announce They’re Moving to a SaaS Business Model

On April 23, 2012, Adobe Inc. launched a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) subscription version of its key product line, Creative Suite, causing its net income to plummet by almost 35% percent the following year. Yet by April 2016 Adobe’s stock price had nearly tripled from its value four years earlier. Adobe’s radical transformation from a product-based business model to a service-based one raised eyebrows in the industry, with many software vendors now wondering how radically they should approach the SaaS model. Due to the fast growth of the SaaS market and the high valuations of SaaS startups, a move toward SaaS seems very compelling for traditional software vendors. For example, in 2014 IDC estimated that more than one-quarter of enterprise applications would be offered with the SaaS model by 2018, up from one-sixth in 20....
Voices from the January-February 2017 Issue

Roger Martin of Rotman School of Management, Paul Zak of Claremont Graduate University, Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, and HBR Editor-in-Chief Adi Ignatius respectively discuss customer loyalty, the neuroscience of trust, entrepreneurship in Africa, the source of innovation, and the new, hefty magazine. For more, see the January-February 2017 issue. Download this podcast
The Explainer: Blue Ocean Strategy

Make the competition irrelevant.
What Cancer Researchers Can Learn from Direct-to-Consumer Companies

Organizations striving to find new ways to attack cancer have much to learn from direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies. Specifically, they can profit from DTC firms’ expertise in persuading their customers to provide and share their data. This is something many cancer patients don’t do because they are unaware of the data’s importance or their power to instruct institutions to share it. Advances in genome-sequencing technologies and powerful analytics are increasingly being used to pinpoint errant genes and other molecular abnormalities that drive cancer’s growth. This knowledge can be used to help doctor match some patients — for example, lung cancer patients with mutations in the ALK or EGFR genes or breast cancer patients’ tumors that overexpress the HER2 protein — to treatments that ta....
The Downsides of Being Very Emotionally Intelligent

Gemma is extremely caring and sensitive. She pays a great deal of attention to others’ emotions and is kind and considerate. Gemma is also quite optimistic. She is usually upbeat and remains positive even in the face of bad news. Her colleagues love working with her because they see her as a beacon of calm. No matter how much stress and pressure there is at work, Gemma is enthusiastic and never loses her cool. Gemma’s manager enjoys dealing with her, as she rarely complains about anything, is reliable and dependable, and shows great levels of organizational citizenship. Indeed, Gemma is extremely trustworthy and ethical. Furthermore, Gemma’s personality also means that she is generally engaged at work, even when her boss is not doing a great job at managing her. Who wouldn’t want to hire Gemma? In many ways, she s....
Why Trump Doesn’t Tweet About Automation

Since winning the U.S. presidency in November, Donald Trump has tweeted frequently about job loss. He’s railed against corporations that plan to move jobs to Mexico or China. He’s taken credit for persuading companies, including Ford and Carrier Corporation, for keeping jobs at home. He’s been unalterably opposed to both outsourcing and big trade deals like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because of the U.S. job losses they might engender. Automation, however, does not seem to be on his mind at all. He doesn’t talk or tweet about it, nor does he complain about job losses that result from it. Yet economists, including the MIT labor economist David Autor, argue that automation is a much greater factor in manufacturing job loss than outsourcing or trade deals is. And as I and others have argued, new aut....
Stop Waiting for Governments to Close the Skills Gap

Donald Trump was elected with the promise to “make America great again.” But America was already great for some people. For example, America has been good for investors: The Dow Jones was at a record high before Trump got elected, and it has risen further since the election. But the country has not been great for workers, who have seen their wages stagnate or decline over the past 15–20 years. America needs to become a great place to work again. And this will only happen if we align the interests of workers and investors such that companies focus on worker well-being to deliver better financial results. There are many explanations for growing inequality and stagnant wages, but studies have found that so-called “skills premiums” — higher wages for more-skilled workers ̵....
Bring in Outside Experts to Mentor Your Team

Organizations depend increasingly on independent, temporary workers, even for mission-critical work. We call this subset of freelancers who do strategic work in companies or nonprofit organizations agile talent. They contribute technical expertise that an organization does not already have to a critical project or initiative. By providing temporary support, they make it possible for organizations to resource their critical activities more cost efficiently. Many of the benefits of agile talent have been widely reported. But a benefit that has received less attention is the contribution they can make as mentors to an organization’s full-time staff. Tapping into your outside experts to help in the development of internal employees is a valuable way to address the needs of both. Experts are often looking for ways to help junior pe....
An Inside View of How LVMH Makes Luxury More Sustainable

The companies that are most vocal about environmental and social issues tend to be big, mass-market brands — well-known retailers, consumer products giants, and tech firms that are telling a new story to consumers who increasingly care about sustainability. It might seem that luxury goods companies would not feel the same pressure, but the high-end brands face important questions about the way their businesses impact the world. These companies can’t ignore sustainability. One luxury leader, LVMH, provides a great example of how to build a robust sustainability program. The company is a €36 billion decentralized collection of valuable brands — which they call houses (or maisons) — covering fashion, wine and spirits, cosmetics, and jewelry. To understand its sustainability journey bett....
Why It’s So Hard to Train Someone to Make an Ethical Decision

One of the conundrums of ethical decision making is that many moral decisions that are quite straightforward — even easy — to resolve in a classroom or during training exercises seem far more difficult to successfully resolve when confronted during actual day-to-day decision making. Take the decision of Sam Waksal, the former CEO of the emerging biotechnology company ImClone Systems. In late 2001 ImClone awaited approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of its much-heralded new cancer treatment, but unexpectedly the FDA decided to reject the company’s application. After privately learning of the FDA’s decision, Waksal called his daughter and told her to sell her ImClone shares before the news became public and the stock plummeted. To any outside observer, Waksal’s decision was incredibly shortsigh....

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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