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Spy Novel or Start-Up?

War of the Cars This is Uber's Playbook for Sabotaging LyftThe VergeFans of burner phones, secret credit cards, code names, and general espionage, look no further than your friendly neighborhood car-sharing start-up. According to The Verge, Uber (the company where you sit in the back seat) is waging an outlandish war on Lyft (the company where you sit in the front seat and parade about town with a giant pink mustache in full view). The gist is this: Contractors, known as "brand ambassadors" (these Uber advocates aren't actually company employees, but that’s a whole other matter), allegedly use their burners to summon Lyft rides. Relying on a playbook (a version of which The Verge published), they then, according to The Verge, try to lure drivers to Uber. A contractor can supposedly earn $750 for turning a driver. The program, ....
America’s New Labor Movement

Flip through issues of Harvard Business Review from the 1950s or 1960s, and you’ll see a steady drumbeat of articles on labor relations. But search Google today, and our top hit on unions is from 20 years ago — John Hoerr’s still-interesting “What Should Unions Do?“ America’s public sector has also found new issues to focus on – as Roger Martin has persuasively argued, Democrats now care about the interests of shareholders and investors, and Republicans about top-tier talent. So I called up Lowell Turner, professor of International and Comparative Labor and Director of the Worker Institute at Cornell, to ask him how labor might adapt to regain its influence. What I learned was that the labor movement in the United States is already adapting — though those changes still fly below the national rad....
Whatever Happened to Corporate Stewardship?

In November 1956, Time magazine explored a phenomenon that went by various names: “capitalism with a conscience,” “enlightened conservatism,” “people’s capitalism,” and, most popularly, “The New Conservatism.” No matter which label one preferred, the basic concept was clear: Business leaders were demonstrating an ever increasing willingness, in the words of the story, to “shoulder a host of new responsibilities” and “judge their actions, not only from the standpoint of profit and loss” in their financial results “but of profit and loss to the community.” I decided to dig out this piece and reread it after news broke this week that Burger King is buying the Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain Tim Hortons for about $11 billion. Once the acquisition is complete, Burger King plans to move its headquarters no....
Let Your Employees Bring Their Interests to Work

Research repeatedly suggests that levels of employee engagement in the workplace are low and worsening. But what really perplexes executives when we talk to them is that their employees are often fully engaged in a host of other activities. Among the growing perplexed population is Mark Barnes (not his real name), vice president of a marketing company. When we spoke with Mark he was becoming increasingly frustrated at the behavior of Jennifer Moline (also not her real name), his most talented employee. “She is intelligent, great at her job, and highly creative,” said Mark. But he was troubled by the feeling that Jennifer was not 100% engaged and, perhaps more so, by the fact that he didn’t understand why and didn’t know what he could do. Like any manager keen to maximize the potential of a great employee, Mark went out of his....
To Feel Greater Power, Add Some Decibels to the Bass

Research participants who listened to a generic piece of music with the bass turned up 15 decibels reported greater feelings of power than those who heard the same music but with the bass turned down 15 decibels (an average of 6.06 versus 5.15 on a 7-point dominant-feelings scale), says a team led by Dennis Y. Hsu of Northwestern University. Moreover, the feelings lasted after the music had stopped. Listening to heavy bass tones and other kinds of powerful music may be an effective and convenient way for people to activate their personal sense of power, the researchers say.
5 Tips for Off-the-Cuff Speaking

If it’s true that many people fear public speaking more than death, it’s equally true that businesspeople are condemned to a thousand small deaths in client pitches, in boardrooms, and on stage. And that death can turn slow and torturous when you are asked to speak unexpectedly with little or no time to prepare. One of the key demands of business is the ability to speak extemporaneously. Whether giving an unexpected “elevator pitch” to a potential investor or being asked at the last minute to offer remarks to a sales team over dinner, the demands for a business person to speak with limited preparation are diverse, endless, and — to many — terrifying. I became more comfortable with these situations through one of my primary activities in college, competitive public speaking called “forensics” (from the Latin ....
What the Lending Club IPO Means for Business

Lending Club, a San Francisco-based peer-to-peer lending start-up, filed for an IPO yesterday, hoping to raise half a billion dollars at a $5 billion valuation. The company’s original focus was personal lending – individuals borrowing a few thousand dollars here and there to pay off credit card bills or fund a home improvement project. But as of earlier this year, the company has expanded into the world of commercial loans, specifically for small businesses. To understand why, one need only look at the state of America’s community banks:   Former SBA administrator and HBS professor Karen Mills wrote about this for HBR earlier this month, arguing that the decline of community banks has threatened small business lending in the U.S. That’s the opportunity that Lending Club and others are hoping to exploit. Lending Club ma....
Smart Watches: Ravishing, and Creepier than Google Glass

Samsung’s new Gear S smart watch, introduced yesterday, is ravishing. The sexy, curved screen, the fact it’s a 3G phone, the 4GB of storage. It may well inspire that techlust that periodically sends hipsters and Valley bros into a tizzy, like the iPhone, or Google Glass. The initial lust for Glass, though, has given way to skepticism, even rage. We’ve marked “Glassholes” as a kind of tech bully for whom consent to be evaluated and recorded and published is a priori. Some people are so uncomfortable with Glass that they’ve created devices to jam its wi-fi when it’s nearby. As creepy as Glass can be, a smart watch is far more insidious, because it creates the same asymmetric power dynamic as Glass–I control the space around me and choose what data is captured and distributed̵....
Privacy’s Shrinking Future

Scott Berinato, senior editor at Harvard Business Review, on how companies benefit from transparency about customer data. For more, read “Pushing the Limits of Personalization” in the September 2014 issue of HBR. Download this podcast
In America, Labor Is Friendless

I imagine that labor is feeling quite wistful about Labor Day 2014. It has been a while since labor, especially organized labor, has had much to celebrate. And the prospects going forward aren’t particularly bright. Real wages for production and non-supervisory workers have declined since the mid-1970s.  The share of jobs that are unionized has plummeted back almost to the level it was before 1935 when the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) facilitated a huge increase in unionization.  High unemployment has persisted in the jobless recovery. For those fortunate enough to have full time employment, job security is down, and pension and health benefits are shrinking. No trend for labor is positive. Worse still, it is arguable that its longtime friend in Washington has abandoned traditional labor.  Throughout most of the 20th cent....
Market Basket’s Employees Were More Important Than Its Shareholders

Over the past half century, the question of who’s really in charge at a corporation has come to receive a pretty simple answer. It’s the shareholders, of course. They’re the ones who bear the residual risk of corporate actions, so they should get final say. Any theory of corporate governance that assigns roles to other stakeholders such as customers or employees has been vulnerable to the criticism that it’s too complicated to work. If corporate executives are agents, they need a principal to answer to. And the way to make this principal-agent relationship work, some very smart people have argued, is to keep it simple and let shareholders reign supreme. The world we actually live in, though, is a lot messier than that. And now, a couple of months after the majority shareholders of Market Basket, the New England grocery chain ....
How the Internet Saved Handmade Goods

A recent article in The Economist, citing the work of Ryan Raffaelli at Harvard Business School, points to what it calls a “paradox” in the aftermath of disruptive innovation. Some old technologies, after being rendered obsolete by better and cheaper alternatives (indeed even after whole industries based on them have been decimated), manage to “re-emerge” to the point that they sustain healthy businesses. Think mechanical Swiss watches, now enjoying strong sales. Or fountain pens, or vinyl records. Or small-batch, handmade goods — from vermouth to chocolate to pickles. We could add our own favorite example: pinball. In our HBR article “Big Bang Disruption”, we describe the devastation of arcade pinball machines wrought in only a few years by Sony’s PlayStation home video console. From a historic high in 1993 of....
Reclaiming Your Turf After Maternity Leave

We’d all like to believe that when we return from maternity leave, our bosses, colleagues and subordinates will welcome us back, and maybe even demonstrate some patience and supportiveness. Unfortunately, that’s not always what goes down. Too often, bosses are insufficiently empathic and organizations do not provide enough flexibility. However, in my own experience, both as a new mother in the corporate world, and as an executive coach who has worked with women who are ascending to senior leadership positions over the last twenty years, I have found that it is peer relationships that are often the toughest to navigate. There are ample guidelines out there on how to ask your boss for more flexible hours, but a shortage of advice on how to handle a peer who – having covered for you during your leave – won’t give you back your....
The Real Reason Companies Are Spending Less on Tech

After the dot-com bubble, investment in software and information processing equipment in the U.S. tumbled, and stayed down. As a percentage of GDP, it’s now back to mid-1990s levels: There’s a version of the chart above in the much-discussed paper that MIT economist David Autor presented last week at the Federal Reserve’s annual Jackson Hole meeting. As part of a thoughtful and generally sanguine look at whether machines are going to take all of our jobs, Autor wrote that whatever might happen in the future, computers and their robot friends didn’t seem to be taking our jobs now: As documented in [the chart] the onset of the weak U.S. labor market of the 2000s coincided with a sharp deceleration in computer investment — a fact that appears first-order inconsistent with the onset of a new era of capital-labor substitution.....
What Baseball Fans Really Love: Doubt About the Outcome

In major league baseball’s first half-century, game attendance was entirely determined by teams’ winning percentages, but in recent decades fans have been increasingly attracted by stadium quality, batting performance, and outcome uncertainty, raising the importance of competition-enhancing policies such as player free agency, say Seung C. Ahn of Arizona State University and Young H. Lee of Sogang University in South Korea. When a league policy enhances competitive balance enough to increase doubt about game outcomes and about consecutive-season dominance by 1 standard deviation, attendance increases by 4% in the American League and 7% in the National League.
Score a Meeting with Just About Anyone

We’re all inundated with meeting requests these days. It’s easy to say no to the egregious ones, like the stranger who recently emailed me to suggest that I meet with him on a specific date so I could provide him with free career coaching. But — though I know better than to ask for pro bono resume critiques — I’ve certainly been on the other side of the equation at various times, having my meeting requests turned down or ignored altogether. In fact, most of us probably have; in an increasingly time-pressed world, almost no one has the leisure to connect “just because.” Here are the strategies I’ve learned over time to ensure the people I want to meet are more likely to say yes. Recognize where you’re starting. A good friend can easily drop you a line letting you know they’ll be in your city and suggesting a meetup....
Do Your Company’s Incentives Reward Bad Behavior?

The current lull in the sparring between General Motors and Congress provides a great opportunity to look at what wasn’t discussed in the furor over the company’s recent recalls and its admitted slip-ups in auto safety: namely, rewards and punishments. For example, during CEO Mary Barra’s testimony in Washington, few lawmakers seemed interested in exactly how GM plans to change its processes, and Barra, while acknowledging that the company needs to improve safety procedures, made it clear that the company won’t share the data from its internal investigation of ignition-switch defects. But Barra, as well as Congress and everyone who drives a GM vehicle, should be more curious about which behaviors in the deepest layers of the company are being rewarded and punished. A report by former federal prosecutor Anton R. Valukas provid....
Curiosity Is as Important as Intelligence

There seems to be wide support for the idea that we are living in an “age of complexity”, which implies that the world has never been more intricate. This idea is based on the rapid pace of technological changes, and the vast amount of information that we are generating (the two are related). Yet consider that philosophers like Leibniz (17th century) and Diderot (18th century) were already complaining about information overload. The “horrible mass of books” they referred to may have represented only a tiny portion of what we know today, but much of what we know today will be equally insignificant to future generations. In any event, the relative complexity of different eras is of little matter to the person who is simply struggling to cope with it in everyday life. So perhaps the right question is not “Is this era more comp....
Who’s Being Left Out on Your Team?

Feeling left out or ignored at work can have tremendously negative effects on workers’ well-being. In a recent survey, researchers at the University of Ottawa found that workplace ostracism does greater harm to employees’ happiness than outright harassment. But what does feeling “included” at work even mean? And how can managers foster an environment where all employees — regardless of age, race, gender, or personality type — feel valued? What the Experts Say Creating a workplace where employees feel included is directly connected to worker retention and growth, says Jeanine Prime, leader of the Catalyst Research Center for Advancing Leader Effectiveness. Yet many corporate diversity programs focus more on creating a diverse workforce, and too little on the harder job of fostering inclusion. Prime’s organization recen....
The Problem with Using Personality Tests for Hiring

A decade ago, researchers discovered something that should have opened eyes and raised red flags in the business world. Sara Rynes, Amy Colbert, and Kenneth Brown conducted a study in 2002 to determine whether the beliefs of HR professionals were consistent with established research findings on the effectiveness of various HR practices. They surveyed 1,000 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) members — HR Managers, Directors, and VPs — with an average of 14 years’ experience. The results? The area of greatest disconnect was in staffing— one of the lynchpins of HR. This was particularly prevalent in the area of hiring assessments, where more than 50% of respondents were unfamiliar with prevailing research findings. Several studies since have explored why these research findings have seemingly failed to transfer to H....
The Power of the Odd Price Ending in Assuaging Buyers’ Guilt

When two equally functioning laptops — one visually attractive, the other less so — were priced at $600, research participants were pretty much evenly split over which to choose; but when the computers were priced at $599, 85% chose the attractive one, says a team led by Jungsil Choi of Cleveland State University in Ohio. The apparent reason is that a price ending in “99” conveys a discount image, which assuages buyers’ anticipated monetary guilt over making a purchase that would feel good as well as be useful.
Unpredictable Work Hours Are Stressing Too Many People Out

In the modern workforce, control over your time is a valuable form of currency: for many, it’s an equal aspiration to getting rich (if it’s any proof ,“control your time” has almost 200,000,000 more mentions on Google than “make more money”). And yet as jobs become ever more dependent on online connectivity and technology, more of us are losing control over our time. Workers at the top and bottom of the economic spectrum feel the loss of control dearly, and technology is often the culprit. Whether it’s a buzzing smartphone or software that tracks our whereabouts, the more hard to predict our schedules become, the less real flexibility many of us have. Researchers, company executives, and advocates fought for decades to increase workplace flexibility. I remember my own initial experience of it: my Blackberry and VPN didn....
The Best HR Departments Don’t Just Focus on People

Over the past decade or so, the talent paradigm has gained considerable momentum in the HR field. Think of all the books out there on the subject, all the talent management consulting practices that have proliferated, and all the talent-management functions now operating within HR departments—not to mention the HR departments that have renamed themselves to focus on talent. The trouble is that “talent” focuses on optimizing individual contributions, and the more we emphasize individuals over the organizations, the more HR will lose the very impact it’s taken 25 years to build—as a strategic enabler of organizational performance. Among the many brilliant insights in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations is that economic organizations come into existence because of their ability to coordinate labor to make the whole greater than t....
Put the Company’s Interests Ahead of Your Unit’s

Imagine that you’re running retail banking for a large, diversified financial services firm. You are focused on and rewarded for building the retail business. You’re a tremendous success. The CEO makes you part of the senior executive team. You’re still heading up retail, of course, and you have a few team members who are vital to making your numbers. But they might also help another division land some big accounts that will make a bigger difference to the enterprise as a whole over the long run. As the leader of the retail business, you are, naturally, reluctant to give away a resource. Would you consider handing off a member of your team, and allow your unit to fall short, to benefit the greater good? If you would, you fit the definition of an “enterprise leader,” the rare boss who has the insight and discipline to make d....
Who Pays Corporate Taxes? Possibly You

Who pays corporate income taxes? Just one thing’s for sure: it’s not corporations. This is because, as Mitt Romney famously put it, “corporations are people, my friend.” They also sell to people, buy from people, and are owned by people. Yes, sometimes you have to dig through layers of other corporations, pension funds, foundations, and the like to get to these people. But they’re there somewhere, trying to avoid getting smacked by corporate taxes. In econospeak, where the burden lands is called tax incidence. “The cardinal rule of incidence analysis,” UC Berkeley economist Alan Auerbach once said, “is you do not talk about incidence analysis.”  Actually, no, he didn’t say that — although this does seem to be the rule that most journalists, politicians, corporate executives, and even economists writing for mai....

TECHNALINK HIGHLIGHTS
  

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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