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Case Study: Should a Female Director “Tone It Down”?

Finally, Sarah thought. J.P. Offutt, the CEO, had named a time when they could meet. Sarah was a longtime director of the company that J.P. ran, a Florida-based shopping-center-development group, and she was devoted to both him and his firm. But board meetings had been tense recently, and J.P. had grown distant. In Sarah’s opinion, the problem was obvious: Sid Yerby, the CFO. Despite her repeated requests for comprehensive financial statements, he continued to come to board meetings with a mere two pages of analysis that lacked any explanation. How could she or any of the other directors provide fiscal oversight without access to details of the company’s operations or accounting? Increasingly, however, hers seemed to be the minority view, and she was starting to feel isolated. Some months back, J.P. had told her privately that he....
Ace the Group Interview

An interview with the board of directors is standard for the CEO, CFO, and nonprofit Executive Director hiring processes, but the group interview approach is becoming more common for many other positions. If you have a group interview in your future, it probably means that you are one of the top candidates for the job, but there are challenges that are specific to these sessions that can make them a tough hurdle to cross. For one thing, group interviews are far less predictable than their individual counterparts. If you’re interviewing with one person, it’s relatively easy to develop a sense of comfort about what to expect from her; once you have many people in front of you it gets harder to know where they are all coming from and predict what they might ask. Furthermore, more people means that the session will feel more lik....
Science Shows Why Marketers Are Right to Use Nostalgia

Nostalgia, by heightening feelings of connectedness, reduces people’s desire for money, says a team led by Jannine D. Lasaleta of the Grenoble School of Management in France. In one experiment, nostalgic feelings increased people’s willingness to pay for desired objects. In another, participants who were asked to draw pictures of coins drew them 10% smaller after writing about a nostalgic event. Inducing warm feelings about a cherished past could bring big benefits for those seeking to part consumers from their money, the researchers say.
What It Will Take to Fix HR

In the July/August issue of HBR, Ram Charan argues that the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) role should be eliminated, with HR responsibilities funneled in two separate directions — administration, led by traditional HR-types, reporting to the CFO; and talent strategy, led by high-potential line managers, reporting to the corner office. While my colleagues and I vehemently agree that HR’s status quo is an inhibitor to growth, it is with the same fervor that we disagree with Ram’s proposed solution. Really? Break up a strategic function in response to underperformance in the wake of severe market disruptions? Put the most strategic pieces into the hands of up-and-comers passing through the leadership-development revolving door? What would the capital markets look like today if a similar tack had been taken when the CFO....
The Cardinal Sins of Innovation Policy

It happens every time there’s a big announcement about a national or regional innovation policy that will lead us into the future: We are presented with schemes to strengthen intellectual property rights, enlarge the pool of risk financing, and upgrade the universities while pushing them to collaborate more with industry. If we are truly lucky, we are told about a new science park to be built just around the corner. There is only one question that is never asked or answered: Why? Why should a specific place — a region, a city, or even a country — want to have an innovation policy? This is a nonsensical question, you might argue. It is perfectly clear why: Innovation is the main engine of sustained economic growth; therefore, if you want to ensure a vibrant economy you must excel in innovation. This, sadly, misses the main diffe....
Promoting the Non-Obvious Candidate

Conventional talent-management systems emphasize the need to give high performers appropriate experiences to help them ascend to more senior levels of management. Companies define career paths accordingly and carefully map, often in a linear fashion, the various roles one has to fill to reach higher management ranks. However, in addition to grooming obvious high performers who are accomplished in a particular domain, talent-management systems should also deliberately look at non-obvious candidates. They are high performers in other domains who do not automatically fit the bill. This may be because they do not have the expertise or experience typically viewed as relevant for the job. But they do have, say, strong leadership skills or a different set of experiences that may be useful in a wider context. Roles and contexts increasingly ....
Why No One Gets Away with Trash Talk Anymore

This summer, a milestone crept up on me—I realized it’s been twenty-five years since I began my career as a professor.  So naturally, I’ve spent some time reflecting on how my choice of profession has worked out.  I spend most of my classroom time with executives who are there because they are unhappy with where they are – or they at least understand they won’t be satisfied for long.  Their hope is that whatever we do together in class will help them find something they’ll find more fulfilling.  How thankful I am that I’ve never had to wrestle with that. And how grateful I should be to an early mentor whose advice, I would say, led to my good fortune.  I began my career at Louisiana State University in August of 1989.  The department chair had worked hard to hire a cohort of five young faculty members that could h....
5 Things Digital CMOs Do Better

If you’re a mid- or late-career marketer, chances are your job today is mostly unrecognizable from what you signed on for. Perhaps no other business function has changed as dramatically over the past decade. Why? Following a silent coup, the coronation is complete: the customer is king. With an abundance of information and choice, customers now guide their own self-directed decision journey as they traverse connected experiences that blur the lines between physical and virtual and scramble marketers’ signals for targeting. Many marketers are left behind, simply tuned in to the wrong frequencies. In response, capturing the right data has become the key capability in finding and engaging audiences. But data, alone, isn’t enough; search and social marketing, for example, are content hungry disciplines. Marketers must also ....
Why It’s Fair to Save a Parking Spot – For a Price

Tech start-up Haystack has developed an innovative – and controversial — solution to the stressful challenge of finding an open parking meter in congested areas. This smartphone app allows those leaving a parking space to alert other Haystack users in the area of their “about-to-be” open spot. To secure this meter (i.e., have the parked car driver wait until they arrive), users pay a fee of $3 (75 cents goes to Haystack while the incumbent “parker” pockets $2.25). Not surprisingly, Haystack has stirred up controversy amongst city officials, particularly in Boston, as well as drivers. We explored these and other questions with pricing strategy author and consultant Rafi Mohammed. An edited version of our conversation is below. First off: From a pricing perspective, is Haystack a good idea? Absolutely! Haystack provides....
Don’t Try to Read Your Employees’ Minds

Albert Einstein once observed, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” I think of this quote often when observing executives with a “little knowledge” of emotional intelligence (also called “EQ”). Don’t get me wrong; the beneficial insights and managerial advances derived from research on emotional intelligence have been game changing. But appreciating a powerful concept is not the same as understanding it well enough to use it productively. Sometimes, “a little knowledge” about EQ abets the delusion that you know people better than you actually do. Consider the case of Vernon (not his real name), whose modus operandi was to find a fault in a subordinate and then turn it into a clinical diagnosis. Detail-oriented people were labeled “OCD” while those whose attention wandered in dull meetings had “ADHD.” H....
How Virtual Humans Can Build Better Leaders

The aviation industry has long relied on flight simulators to train pilots to handle challenging situations. These simulations are an effective way for pilots to learn from virtual experiences that would be costly and difficult or dangerous to provide in the real world. And yet in business, leaders commonly find themselves in tricky situations for which they haven’t trained. From conducting performance reviews to negotiating with peers, they need practice to help navigate the interpersonal dynamics that come into play in interactions where emotions run high and mistakes can result in lost deals, damaged relationships, or even harm to their — or their company’s — reputation. Some companies, particularly those with substantial resources, do use live-role playing in management and other training. But this training is exp....
When the Jobs Go Away, They Take Your DNA

The End of Manufacturing and the Birth of…Sequenced in the U.S.A.: A Desperate Town Hands Over Its DNAPacific StandardEleven years ago, a full tenth of Kannapolis, North Carolina, residents were laid off when the town's textile mill closed. This could be the start of yet another story about the decline of manufacturing in America, but it's not. It's a much more nuanced tale. You see, aside from a Walmart, Kannapolis's most promising economic opportunity is in the hands of Los Angeles billionaire and health and life-extension aficionado David H. Murdock. Murdock purchased the old mill in 2004 and turned it into what journalist Amanda Wilson describes as "a public–private campus that would host research efforts broadly in his areas of interest." Yes, it employs people — but primarily people with advanced degrees from out of town.....
Collaborate Across Teams, Silos, and Even Companies

Everywhere I turn right now, I hear leaders talking about their need for collaborative leadership. It’s being identified as the fundamental differentiator in achieving strategic objectives. In order to make a difference though, it has to go beyond the polite, thoughtful behaviours of involving others, sharing information and lending strength when it’s needed. I define real collaborative leadership as: facilitating constructive interpersonal connections and activities between heterogenous groups to achieve shared goals. It is proactive and purpose-driven. Dubai Airports offers a case study. Leaders there are being incredibly proactive in their collaborative leadership efforts, with a very clear purpose. While already running the world’s busiest airport (passenger traffic grew to almost 66.5 million in 2013, a 15% rise on the ....
The Evidence Is In: Patent Trolls Do Hurt Innovation

Over the last two years, much has been written about patent trolls, firms that make their money asserting patents against other companies, but do not make a useful product of their own. Both the White House and Congressional leaders have called for patent reform to fix the underlying problems that give rise to patent troll lawsuits. Not so fast, say Stephen Haber and Ross Levine in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed (“The Myth of the Wicked Patent Troll”). We shouldn’t reform the patent system, they say, because there is no evidence that trolls are hindering innovation; these calls are being driven just by a few large companies who don’t want to pay inventors. But there is evidence of significant harm. The White House and the Congressional Research Service both cited many research studies suggesting that patent litigation harms....
Most Managers Think of Themselves as Coaches

As a manager, do you think of yourself as a leader or as a coach? Do you, for instance, feel it’s important that your staff see you as an expert or do you prefer to create an egalitarian environment? Are you the person who solves problems or helps your staff come up with their own solutions? Are you more comfortable being directive or collaborative? Results of a survey we’ve been conducting indicate a stronger desire to display coaching attributes than we were expecting. Our assessment consists of 30 items we have tested and correlated to the most important attributes associated either with strong, top-down leadership or excellent coaches.  (If you have not yet, we encourage you to take the assessment now, so that you can compare your scores with the those we present below.) More than 2,00o readers responded to the survey. The r....
In China, Breathing Is a Work Hardship

Expatriate employees of Coca-Cola working in China receive 15% bonuses because of the country’s air pollution, according to a Bloomberg article about a report in the Australian Financial Review (local Chinese aren’t eligible for the bonus). Panasonic has announced that it too will compensate expatriates in China because of air pollution. The U.S. State Department offers a “hardship differential” to employees who serve in posts with difficult circumstances, including unhealthful conditions; the differential ranges from zero in Kunming, China, to 30% in industrial areas such as Shenyang.
CEOs, Get to Know Your Rivals

In an interview, Cisco CEO John Chambers once remarked on his intimate knowledge of rival CEOs. He claimed that based on this insight he could anticipate their market moves one or even two steps in advance. I thought he might be exaggerating, making good copy but lacking substance. I decided to test his claim by interviewing current and former C-suite executives, including Bob Crandall, former CEO of American Airlines; David Norton, former CMO of Harrah’s casinos; Will Ethridge, CEO of Pearson Education; and Pat O’Keefe, former CEO of Watts Water Technologies. From plumbing equipment to casinos, these executives all agreed: what Chambers said was not only true but almost an understatement. In fact, I began to see four different strategies for keeping track of — and out-maneuvering — rivals: Look for weaknesses that pr....
The Future of Talent Is Potential

Linda Hill, Harvard Business School professor, and Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, senior adviser at Egon Zehnder, on the talent strategies that set up a company for long-term success. Linda is the coauthor of Collective Genius, and Claudio is the author of It’s Not the How or the What but the Who. Both authors will be speaking at the World Business Forum, October 7–8, 2014. Download this podcast
Why CEOs Should Follow the Market Basket Protests

Somebody must have done something really right at Market Basket. Thousands of the supermarket chain’s employees have organized rallies at their local stores and at the company’s headquarters during the last week. Were these employees rallying for higher wages, better benefits, and predictable schedules — the needs so many retail employees face? No, they were demonstrating to help their ousted CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas, get his job back (he was fired in June after coup led by his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas). At a time when we see so much division between CEOs who represent the 1% and their workers who representing the 99%, this is amazing.  Other CEOs should take heed.  Such support is priceless. Market Basket is a profitable family-owned regional chain of 71 supermarkets in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, wit....
How Internal Entrepreneurs Can Deal with Friendly Fire

We know some of you find being an “internal entrepreneur” disappointingly difficult. You are frustrated by employers who thwart your entrepreneurial efforts on a routine basis. But that’s how it is supposed to be!  Large organizations, with rare exceptions, are created to scale up and master repetition without error or variance. They are professional Predict, Plan & Execute (“PP&E”) machines, and as they have evolved over time, are carefully engineered to stamp out anything that induces uncertainty. The stock market demands this—and the systems, structures, and procedures (including the career path of your boss) support and reward it. For you to expect this situation to change quickly or without some pain is naïve and, quite possibly, mean-spirited. Imagine you are a professional long-distance runner and decide ....
The Answer to Every Business Question Is “It Depends”

What happens when you put three business professors in a rental car and send them out to talk to owners and managers of small- and medium-sized businesses? Would they discover their MBA frameworks to be a bunch of academic mumbo-jumbo with no real applicability? For the past several years, professors Mike Mazzeo (Kellogg), Paul Oyer (Stanford) and I (Utah) have been touring the back roads of America, knocking on doors, and asking business people how they do it. We trudged through ice and snow in Enid, Oklahoma, cruised over mountain passes near Missoula, Montana, and dodged mammoth raindrops in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. We got lost dozens of times, ate some dodgy meals, and, most importantly, learned a lot about business. Our learnings support a single point, which Paul and I named in Mike’s honor. Mazzeo’s Law: The answe....
Use a Brand Council to Help Steer Strategy

David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, once observed that “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing people.” A more current corollary might be, “Brand-building is too important to be left to the brand people.” The historical role brands have played – serving as symbols to guarantee a certain level of quality or as images to attract attention – is no longer relevant or useful today. A brand can’t just be a promise; it must be a promise delivered. And brand stewardship can no longer be under the exclusive purview of marketing departments and brand managers. A 2008 survey of chief marketing officers and brand managers by the Association of National Advertisers found that 64% say their brands do not influence decisions made at their companies. Brands may drive communications activities, but little else.....
Sharing Data Is a Form of Corporate Philanthropy

Ever since the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters was signed in 1999, satellite companies like DMC International Imaging have had a clear protocol with which to provide valuable imagery to public actors in times of crisis. In a single week this February, DMCii tasked its fleet of satellites on flooding in the United Kingdom, fires in India, floods in Zimbabwe, and snow in South Korea. Official crisis response departments and relevant UN departments can request on-demand access to the visuals captured by these “eyes in the sky” to better assess damage and coordinate relief efforts. DMCii is a private company, yet it provides enormous value to the public and social sectors simply by periodically sharing its data. (Below is satellite imagery the company provided to Algeria to help track the spread of locusts.) UK-DMC....
Bigger Government Doesn’t Always Mean Less Entrepreneurship

Conventional wisdom holds that there is a tradeoff between an expansive welfare state and the dynamism of a country’s economy. Bigger government gets in the way of entrepreneurship, the thinking goes, thereby holding back innovation and job creation. There is data that seems to bear this out; research has found a negative correlation between a country’s level of government spending and its rate of new business creation. But a new paper from a researcher at The World Bank adds some much-needed nuance to the conversation, making the point that not all government spending is equal. It’s intuitive that different types of spending would have different effects on entrepreneurship. A dollar spent on university R&D might stimulate it while a dollar spent subsidizing an incumbent firm might do the reverse. With that in mind, the stu....
Unpredictability of Work Hours Becomes a Labor Issue

The next big labor issue in the U.S. may be a push for greater predictability of work schedules, according to The New York Times: With companies constantly adjusting staffing to maximize efficiency, 47% of part-time hourly workers ages 26 to 32 receive a week or less of advance notice for their schedules. Unpredictable hours make it hard for workers to arrange child care and to take second jobs to make ends meet.

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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