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Reinventing the Chief Marketing Officer: An Interview with Unilever CMO Keith Weed

A marketing revolution is under way and nowhere is that more visible than in the CMO’s transforming role. Unilever CMO Keith Weed embodies this new order as an architect and leader of the firm’s plan to double revenue while halving its environmental impact. In this edited interview, Weed describes a new breed of marketing organization, and the CMO’s increasingly strategic role. You have a very unusual job description for a CMO – you oversee marketing and communications and sustainable business. What’s the rationale for that? The construct came from our CEO Paul Polman. When Paul arrived at Unilever in 2009, I was running the global laundry and home care business and also the water business around the world. And one of the big drives there for me was to find more sustainable solutions, particularly to clothes washing. It’s....
The Right Way to Present Your Business Case

You’ve already put a great deal of work into preparing a solid business case for your project or idea. But when it comes to the critical presentation phase, how do you earn the support of decision makers in the room? How do you present your case so that it’s clear and straightforward while also persuasive? What the Experts Say Without a winning delivery, even the best-laid business plans are at a disadvantage. “The idea may be great, but if it’s not communicated well, it won’t get any traction,” says Nancy Duarte, the author of the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations and CEO of Duarte, Inc., a company specializing in presentations and corporate messaging workshops. A memorable presentation transforms “numbers on a page” into something more tangible, says Raymond Sheen, author of the HBR Guide to Buil....
A Better Way to Bridge the Skills Gap

For a long time now, business leaders have been saying that the American workforce lacks sufficient skills to fill 21st century jobs. Those of us at the frontlines of social services — doing the work of preparing low-income young people — share these concerns and hear you loud and clear. The education gap is holding back not just workers but businesses and our whole economy. That’s why I was quite interested to hear about the innovative new educational credential called the “nanodegree,” announced last month with great heraldry by AT&T and Udacity, an online education company founded by a Stanford professor and former Google executive. For $200 a month and in less than a year, students can receive online training that prepares them for immediate entry into technology jobs. Making it cheaper and simpler to become quali....
Keep Time and Emotion from Killing a Negotiation

Time and emotion — these are the two things most often wasted during a negotiation. We simply spend too much time on items that don’t really matter, because we let our emotions override any semblance of logic. It is a natural human response to act negatively, reactively, and emotionally to any negotiation points that are counter to one’s pre-disposed positions. It is also poor negotiation practice. The mere fact of having a position lies at the root of why we get caught up in the drama of a negotiation, rather than focusing on the plotline or ending (i.e. goal) toward which we are striving.  In business school, students are sometimes taught the difference between position-based versus interest-based negotiation.  When you focus on the differences between your positions rather than the commonality of your interests, little pr....
Hobby Lobby and the Separation of Church and Business

Could the recent Hobby Lobby decision by the US Supreme Court threaten the economy? Yes, it could. Much of the attention around the decision has focused on implications for women’s health care – which is indeed a crucial issue. But in order to understand the deeply troubling implications for business and the economy, we need to go back — all the way back to the legal origins of the corporation. The legal theorists that populated the world of America’s founders were among the first to recognize the economic importance of the corporation. Sir Edward Coke — the Elizabethan theorist whose dreary legal tomes were the bane of Thomas Jefferson’s student years — laid down the fundamental principle of corporate law: The corporation is a legal entity distinct from its owners, creators, or operators, endowed with its own distinc....
Teams Are More Comfortable with Ambiguity than Individuals Are

In a series of experiments on choices between sure amounts of money and various kinds of gambles, researchers found that three-person groups are both less averse to ambiguity and less inclined to seek it — in other words, are more neutral about ambiguity — than are individuals. A possible reason is that individuals’ extreme attitudes toward ambiguity, either negative or positive, tend to be softened by persuasive arguments from other group members, says a team led by Steffen Keck of Insead. The findings suggest that teams may be better than individuals at handling tasks involving imprecise probabilities, such as long-term planning.
Resentment, Jealousy, Feuds: A Look at Intel’s Founding Team

Over the course of a month I have published one book and completed another. The published book is a history of Intel Corporation, largely told through its three famous founders. The finished book, co-authored with an old friend (and current publisher of Forbes), deals with the emerging science of team-building and management. And at the intersection of the two lies an interesting – and I think illuminating — story. As often happens when writing history, those things you think you know best turn out to be completely wrong. It’s said that when Philip Ziegler was writing a biography of Lord Mountbatten he grew so angry at his subject’s behavior that he kept a note on his desk that read: REMEMBER, IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING, HE WAS A GREAT MAN.  A lot of historians and biographers have felt the same way about their subjects. I g....
What Writing a Book Taught This Consultant

Thrilling, terrifying, altogether great. Nine months after publishing my first book, that’s my assessment of the author experience. Now that I’m back in the swing of strategy consulting, I’m finding some of what I learned from the writing process to be useful in client work. I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far. I’m hopeful there’s useful perspective here for consultants, accountants, PR professionals – anyone who gives counsel for a living. For brevity’s sake, I’ll refer to all of us as consultants. Tell a story. Successful writing requires commitment to storytelling and to enlightening. Business writing leans towards the latter. I think it should lean much more towards the former – storytelling is a skill more consultants need. The best young people at any consulting firm bring a lot of analytica....
Most Marketers Flop at Real-Time Customer Interactions

If you’ve ever tried to learn an intricate physical skill as an adult, you know what it’s like to be a marketer today. When adults set out to acquire a skill like golf or snowboarding or the tango, they usually break it down so they can be sure to learn each of its movements before making fools of themselves on the links or the hill or the parquet. They practice stepping, bending, and turning until they’re good at each component—and then they go out and make fools of themselves anyway, because putting together a series of movements in real time is an order of magnitude harder than doing them in isolation. Over the past decades, marketers have gotten pretty good at collecting and crunching customer data and using it to figure out what various customer segments want. Many companies have even managed to break down silos to the e....
The Case for Listening to the Maniacs

Off the Bell CurvePay Attention to Your “Extreme Consumers”Working KnowledgeMarketers worry too much about the average consumer and don’t spend enough time thinking about “extreme” customers — those quasi-maniacs who passionately love or hate a brand. Because extreme consumers share other consumers’ thoughts but amplify them to the nth degree, they can lead marketers toward breakthroughs, say Jill J. Avery and Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School. “Lovers or haters of a product can be the canary in the coal mine — an early warning system that can alert managers to problems,” says Avery, who by the way has a great piece on consumer relationships in the current issue of HBR. Studying extreme consumers can help companies look at products in new ways. For example, in interviewing people who detest video game....
How 6 Countries Compare on Executive Gender Balance

All countries are not equal – in gender as in much else. Our Annual Country Scorecards show how national culture and legislation impacts companies’ progress on gender balance. Where many European and North American companies have been on a slow but steady gender-balancing journey, big business in much of Asia is (at best) only just waking up to the issue. Here is a short travelogue of corporate gender balancing across a few key countries, based on data from the top 20 Fortune Global 500 companies in each one. You’ll find the more detailed reports here. France: Pushing quotas and operational roles Last year, following France’s introduction of quotas imposing a minimum of 40% of women on corporate boards, there was a significant improvement of the gender balance on boards. In 2014, are we witnessing a trickle-down effect? Ther....
End Abusive Behavior on Your Team

Managers aim their abuse at those who are least likely to defend themselves. That is the finding of a disturbing new study by Pedro Neves (published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology), which looked at 193 supervisor/employee pairings in a variety of different industries. I found the results troubling, but sadly they resonated based on my experience as an executive team advisor in dozens of organizations. Here is a summary of Neves’ findings. Employees with poor core-self evaluations (an aggregate measure related to self-esteem and sense of control) and poor coworker support were more likely to experience aggressive behavior from their supervisor (belittling, blaming, etc.). That is, the weakest employees receive the brunt of a bad manager’s abuse. The propensity to target aggression at the people least ....
How Comcast Sets Its Customer Service Reps Up to Fail

You’ve probably heard the audio by now — eight excruciating minutes of back-and-forth between a Comcast customer who wants to cancel his service without giving a reason, and the customer service rep who digs for one nonstop. If not, take a listen:   Curious about what might be going on, management-wise, behind the interaction, I spoke with Frances Frei, a professor and senior associate dean at the Harvard Business School and the co-author of Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business. An edited version of our conversation is below. Aside from the general reaction from the internet – that the service rep is a jerk – I’m wondering what you make of this call.  Sure. The public has it wrong, by the way. How? Imagine if I told you that I am the leader of a company and am tel....
The Industrial Revolution That Never Was

Every schoolchild learns that the industrial revolution began in England. Forests have been felled to demonstrate why England, and only England, had the culture and institutions to be the birthplace of modern industrial capitalism in the late 1700s. Yet the creation of large-scale factories nearly began not in England, but in Great Britain’s American colonies, 250 years ago. The American version failed miserably, because culture and institutions were not enough to kindle an economic revolution. It was in June of 1764 that a merchant named Peter Hasenclever landed in New York with plans to build a network of factories unlike any the world had seen. Hasenclever, then 48, had been an international businessman almost since birth. He had grown up in northwestern Germany, where his father owned mills that heated small amounts of charcoal....
Your Company Can Benefit If a Top Politician Is Your Friend

The stock of companies whose top executives or major shareholders were friends of Nicolas Sarkozy outperformed other firms’ stock by 3% after Sarkozy’s election as president of France in 2007, according to Renaud Coulomb of the Paris School of Economics and Marc Sangnier of Aix-Marseille University. For comparison, past researchers have estimated the returns to being connected to powerful officials at 5% in Italy and Turkey and 8% in China. Sarkozy, who served until 2012, was recently put under official investigation in France and charged with corruption and influence peddling.
Don’t Sell a Product, Sell a Whole New Way of Thinking

We all know the story.  A team creates a groundbreaking new innovation only to see it mired in internal debates. When it is eventually launched in the market, there is an initial flurry of sales to early adopters, but then sales cycles become sluggish. Pilot customers are enthusiastic, but broader adoption is slow even with customer support and training. All the pieces are in place to create “disruptive innovation” and “cross the chasm,” but the results are disappointing. What’s missing? The problem is that data, information, and value propositions are not enough to sell innovative products. We all know the saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But when it comes to innovation, the truth is often “I’ll see it when I believe it.” To sell your idea to executives, buyers, and users, you have to change not only w....
To Do Things Better, Stop Doing So Much

Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, on the importance of being “absurdly selective” in how we use our time. Download this podcast
You Can’t Be a Great Manager If You’re Not a Good Coach

If you have room in your head for only one nugget of leadership wisdom, make it this one: the most powerfully motivating condition people experience at work is making progress at something that is personally meaningful. If your job involves leading others, the implications are clear: the most important thing you can do each day is to help your team members experience progress at meaningful work. To do so, you must understand what drives each person, help build connections between each person’s work and the organization’s mission and strategic objectives, provide timely feedback, and help each person learn and grow on an ongoing basis. Regular communication around development — having coaching conversations — is essential. In fact, according to recent research, the single most important managerial competency that separates hig....
IBM and Apple: From Rivals to Partners in 30 Years?

The lynchpin of the new IBM-Apple alliance will be this simple phrase in the first sentence of their joint press release: “an exclusive partnership.” It sounds so innocent—a sentiment reflected at every human marriage. The two will become one. But business combinations are not human marriages. About ten years ago, when New Jersey Superior Court judge Margaret McVeigh settled a partnership dispute between Amazon.com and Toys-R-Us, she wrote: “Long term commitment in a world where the technology is advancing almost on a daily basis is difficult to maintain. . .What constitutes an exclusive partnership continues to be a challenge not only for individuals who work on the partnership daily, but for business entities.” For IBM and Apple, this partnership challenge looms even larger than it did for Amazon.com and Toys-R-Us. One re....
How to Spread Empathy in Health Care

Social network scientists have shown that emotions and values can spread in a community with the same patterns as infectious diseases. They have described how the people who are most connected to others may be the first ones to get hot gossip, but they are also most likely to get the scary new virus that has just shown up in town. These observations suggest an interesting opportunity for making health care better, and even more efficient – if health care organizations can figure out how to create an “epidemic of empathy.” What would an epidemic of empathy look like? There would be a steady, relentless increase in the proportion of clinicians and other personnel who are clearly tuned in to what was really happening to patients and their families. Coordinated and empathic care would not seem to patients as miraculous and unpredic....
The Authenticity Trap for Workers Who Are Not Straight, White Men

Many employees are encouraged to “just be yourself,” only to find their authenticity — and their career ambitions — constrained by unwritten office rules about appearance, speech, and behavior. Professionals of color, women, and LGBTs find there is a much narrower band of acceptance, and the constraints bite harder than wearing more polished outfits, getting a decent haircut, or even de-emphasizing an accent. Because senior leaders are overwhelmingly “pale and male” — professionals of color hold only 11% of executive positions in corporate America, women currently make up just 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs, and there are even fewer openly gay chief executives — they often feel they have to scrub themselves of the ethnic, religious, racial, socioeconomic, and educational identifiers that make them who they really are. As ....
3 Reasons You Underestimate Risk

In hindsight, many risks seem obvious.  And when we do take the time to evaluate potential risks, there is often not much that is profound about them.  Yet so many of us fall prey to unforeseen risks, believing that they came out of nowhere or that they could not have been anticipated.  While this may be true in some cases, most of the time risk blindness occurs due to the way our brains are wired. Here are three reasons why we’re blind to risk, and what we can do about it. The first reason for risk blindness is that reward obscures risk. When things are going well, we tend to fly high and lose ourselves in the thrill of the reward. One study (literally) demonstrated this effect. Participants (non-commercial pilots) were instructed that they would be flying a plane that had reached the decision altitude.  At that point they wer....
Why Do Recent Grads of For-Profit Colleges Outearn Other Graduates?

The 65.2% of graduates of for-profit colleges who were employed and not in school earned a full-time median salary of $54,000 in 2012, according to a Fortune report on a study by the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics. The comparable figures for graduates of private nonprofit and public universities were $47,500 and $45,000, respectively. One possible reason: Graduates of for-profit colleges tend to be older and have more job experience; for example, of the graduates who attended four-year for-profit colleges in 2008, 60% were over 26 years old when they received their degrees.
How Big Data Brings Marketing and Finance Together

When Raja Rajamannar became CMO of MasterCard Worldwide in 2013, he moved quickly to transform how the credit card giant measures marketing. His artillery: Advanced Big Data analytics. MasterCard had always been a data-driven organization. But the real power and full potential of data was not being fully realized by marketing. Rajamannar involved finance early. To spearhead analytic efforts, he assigned a finance person – who was already embedded in marketing – to create an ROI evaluation framework and integrated her deeper into the marketing function. With a better understanding of the marketing context, she has brought a new level of financial discipline and rigor to the marketing team. This has reframed the conversation to balance the interests of both sides. For example, in the credit card business, understanding the importan....
Strategies to Promote Women Should Vary Across Cultures

The proportion of women in the leadership ranks of organizations remains low around the world but, from country to country, there is surprising divergence. According to recent statistics, boardroom representation by women ranges from about 1-2% in Japan, to 17% in the United States, and much higher in countries like Norway (~40%). Our work indicates that this variation is partly a function of national differences in cultural tightness – that is, the degree to which a culture’s norms are clear and likely to be enforced by authorities through the use of sanctions. In tighter cultures, individuals may be fined for chewing gum or spitting in the streets, but in looser ones, they may receive no more than a disapproving glance. Research shows Pakistan and Turkey are among the tightest countries, and Ukraine and New Zealand among the....

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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