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When Real-Time Intel Still Isn’t Fast Enough

We now live in a world where both man and machine can access data on almost any topic at any moment. Documentation of our world happens in real time, through a constant, autonomous torrent of ones and zeroes — and research and recall of that information have been reduced to mere mouse clicks. With all data available at all times, opportunities — and adversaries — can also move in real time. So we should ask ourselves, “How do we move faster?” This is the domain of predictive analytics — a concept that isn’t new, but the potential of which, in a world not limited by data or processing power, is expanding rapidly. I’m at Lockheed Martin where we focus relentlessly on expanding and improving the technology and tradecraft to remain ahead of adversaries. Our investments in predictive analytics primarily serve the goal ....
Imagining Productivity Apps for the Apple Watch

App developers from Stockholm to San Francisco are anxiously counting down the days til the November release of the Apple Watch SDK (or “Software Development Kit”), which will give them the tools to begin building their own concepts. I’d argue that these developers stand at a crossroads for the Internet of Things (IoT). Following one path, they can design the familiar types of apps that we already see on tablets and phones, simply scaled-down for a smaller screen. In doing so, they would treat the watch — and by default its wearer — as just another connected data-collecting “thing” among “things.” Following an alternative path, developers would design for the humanity of the wearer, prioritizing individual intelligence over collective intelligence. For example, they would prioritize my needs (say to make a smart d....
More Data Won’t Turn Employees into High-Performing Machines

In much of the industrialized world, work has changed dramatically in the past 100 years. We have come a long way since the early days of assembly lines and Fordism. Today, we talk about giving employees a consumer-like experience: not “jobs,” but meaningful careers; not “roles”, but a sense of purpose. At least in our narrative, engagement has replaced productivity — work should be rewarding and fun, colleagues should be friends, and work-life balance has been replaced by work-life integration (as we work from home at 1 a.m. and hit the company meditation room or bar at 1 p.m.). Where once Marx lamented capitalistic alienation, today’s talent management gurus celebrate gamification and giving employees a consumer-like experience. But even in jobs with the cushiest perks and most spoiled HR practices, employers still drea....
Communication Tips for Global Virtual Teams

One of my designers lives in Turkmenistan. Every day, he wakes up to email and assignments to create beautiful front-end designs from our commercial team in New York and San Francisco. When he’s done, he sends them to a developer in Ukraine to implement. Throughout the day they work on various projects, and when they go to bed our design and development teams in New York take over. The system runs smoothly and it means that my team happily works around the clock — without any one person actually working around the clock. People often ask me about how I managed to build this global engineering team at RebelMouse, and before that at Huffington Post, relaying their outsourcing horror stories and wondering how I got around them. A lot of it comes down to being really intentional about how our globally dispersed team communicates. We ....
Get Ready for a Brand New HBR.org

We have some exciting news to share. Starting next week, HBR.org will look completely different. For more than a year, we’ve been hard at work designing and building a brand-new website, and we can’t wait for you to see it. The new site isn’t just a better-looking version of the HBR.org you know. We’ve rebuilt it from the ground up, and we’ve added a lot of new features, all in response to your requests and feedback. Here are a few highlights: A much better reading experience We’ve improved the design of our article pages to make reading easier and more pleasurable on any device. We’re eliminating pagination on the magazine articles, and across the site you’ll see more graphics, and clearer connections between new ideas, practical advice, and timeless articles from the HBR archive. My Library We’ve created a place ....
Tailor Your Presentation to Fit the Culture

Fourteen years ago I moved from Chicago to Paris. The first time I ran a training session in France, I prepared thoroughly, considering how to give the most persuasive presentation possible. I practiced my points, and anticipated questions that might arise. The day of the session, my actions were guided by the lessons I had learned from many successful years of training in the U.S. I started by getting right to the point, introducing strategies, practical examples, and next steps. But the group did not seem to be responding as usual, and soon the first hand came up. “How did you get to these conclusions?” You are giving us your tools and recommended actions, but I haven’t heard enough about how you got here. How many people did you poll? What questions did you ask?” Then another jumped in: “Please explain what methodology y....
What to Do After a Bad Performance Review

It can be hard to recover from a less-than-stellar performance review, especially one that you didn’t see coming. You might feel angry, embarrassed, and confused. How do you regain your professional confidence? And how do you make the best use of the critical feedback? What the Experts Say Negative feedback often contradicts the stories that we tell about ourselves — what we’re good at, what we’re capable of — and sometimes confirms our worst fears. But don’t let a negative review unravel the story of who you are. “No one bats a thousand,” says Mitchell Marks, professor of management at San Francisco State University and president of the consultancy JoiningForces.org. “We’re human beings. And sometimes a reality check is quite valuable.” Without feedback, after all, there wouldn’t be any possibility for grow....
Why Leaders Don’t Brag About Successfully Managing Stress

Imagine what it’s like to be General Motors CEO Mary Barra. In her brief tenure, GM will have recalled almost 28 million automobiles worldwide. Her firm is besieged by allegations of having a culture of carelessness and a dysfunctional bureaucracy. Surely these problems crowd her thoughts. Her body is no doubt dumping cortisol and epinephrine at astonishing rates. Both of these neurochemicals can cause a host of physical ailments, such as high blood pressure, as well as cognitive ailments and depression. The longer the body is exposed to these chemicals, the greater their toll. Of course, stress can sometimes be a positive force, focusing a person’s attention, boosting determination, and energizing action. It can help us buckle down and hold fast. It encourages clear-headed prioritization and resolve. But it can also hobble us. ....
The Value of Keeping the Right Customers

Depending on which study you believe, and what industry you’re in, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. It makes sense: you don’t have to spend time and resources going out and finding a new client — you just have to keep the one you have happy. If you’re not convinced that retaining customers is so valuable, consider research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (the inventor of the net promoter score) that shows increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. The bottom line: keeping the right customers is valuable. One of the key metrics in understanding whether your company is retaining customers is customer churn rate. But what exactly is that? And how to do companies use it? To better understand this key marketin....
Hurricane Sandy’s Lesson: Resilience Isn’t Enough

Two years is enough time to get some perspective on a major event. We can move from immediate and emotional reaction to some semblance of calm assessment. It’s been two years since Hurricane Sandy crashed through the Caribbean and northeastern United States, leaving lost lives and tremendous damage in its wake. Now is the time to ask: have cities and the business world learned the right lessons? In many ways the reactions and planning for the future is impressive on many fronts. But we’re also continuing to ignore some of the real implications. We must first acknowledge that climate change has something to do with extreme weather. In the last two years, there’s been a steady progression on the scientific view, from saying that we can never tie a single weather event to climate change, to starting to make some connections (like....
Humans Can Make the Internet of Things Smarter

Internet of Things (IoT) systems usually consist of a set of sensors that collect information, which is then transmitted between different devices without human intervention. At the same time, today’s mobile infrastructure — the devices, the apps — is typically all about human interaction. At first glance, these two environments seem to be separate. But what if they talked to each other? I’d argue that this integration is actually key to making IoT work, especially under circumstances in which human interaction, judgment, and action can enhance data collection, analysis, and system behavior. In short, input from actual people will make the IoT smarter. A system that collects data automatically can be compromised by issues of data quality, such as inconsistent, missing, or unrecognized data which then can ....
There’s No Excuse for Avoiding Strategy

Strategy has shrunk. For many firms and even for some prominent strategy consultants, the concept is now nothing more than “just-in-time decision making” or “a few critical initiatives” or other variations on “adaptability.” Driving this view is a set of assumptions: that making and integrating strategic choices “assumes a relatively stable and predictable world,” and that the speed of information flows and change in our high velocity world makes a search for sustainable advantage an ephemeral exercise that’s not worth it. Forget, for a moment, the paucity of data supporting these assertions and the evidence that contradicts it. (U.S. Census Bureau data indicate that the average age of businesses is increasing and that new-business formation and other metrics of what economists call “business dynamism” have, sad....
Boards Aren’t as Global as Their Businesses

There’s a growing consensus that companies need strong, independent boards full of qualified directors if they are to sidestep risks and seize opportunities in our complex and dynamic international economy. Being generally “impressive” is no longer enough—investors and corporate watchdogs expect a well-defined rationale for each appointment, an articulation of how the board member will provide meaningful oversight and counsel on critical issues. One of the most important of those issues is, of course, globalization. As Egon Zehnder’s just-released 2014 Global Board Index found, 37% of the revenue generated by companies in the S&P 500 now comes from international sources, an increase of 5.5% since the index was first developed in 2008. Only 28% of the S&P 500 still generate all their revenue in the United States. But....
Rules for Designing an Engaging Workplace

Most of us would acknowledge that good design has a powerful influence on how people think and behave. As today’s companies wake up to the value of workers who are truly engaged in their work — a clear case of trying to encourage certain ways of thinking and behaving – they should probably be paying far more attention to place design. Few things are more instrumental in boosting — or diminishing — levels of employee engagement. Environmental psychologists are the design mavens of the scientific world. We’re the folks who concentrate our attention on how sensory experiences, psychosocial factors such as needing a territory, and basic psychological drives like having control over our physical environment, interact with personality and national culture to influence how attitudes and actions are affected by being in one sp....
Tesco’s Downfall Is a Warning to Data-Driven Retailers

Tesco’s chairman has resigned in disgrace. The company’s market value has more than halved to an 11-year low as it acknowledged overstating profits by hundreds of millions of dollars. And a humbled Warren Buffett, after opportunistically raising his stake in the company after a surprise profit warning, confessed to CNBC: “I made a mistake on Tesco. That was a huge mistake by me.” Indeed. Britain’s biggest supermarket chain has not only seen its fortunes erode but its reputation for competitiveness, creativity and integrity collapse. Even before its accounting travails, a former chairman had sharply criticized former CEO Sir Terry Leahy, who had led Tesco to market dominance and worldwide admiration, for leaving a shambles of a legacy. Leahy’s immediate successor resigned in July; his successor fr....
Sears Has Come Back from the Brink Before

It’s not been a great year for venerable retailer Sears, which is reputed to be closing 130 retail stores and laying off more than 5,000 employees. Concerns that it wouldn’t have enough cash to finance its holiday stock has apparently led to the company to sell real estate, spin off its Lands’ End brand, and raise $625 million in unsecured loans and equity warrants. This is disturbing coming from a company so adept at cutting-edge customer analytics that it’s selling analytics services and has refused to divulge the names of its tech staff at Hadoop conferences to prevent them from being poached. But from the average consumer’s point of view, it can be hard to see Sears’ competitive advantage right now. Why shop there for tools or appliances rather than at Home Depot, Harbor Freight Tools, Kam Appliances, or some other bi....
Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling

It is quiet and dark. The theater is hushed. James Bond skirts along the edge of a building as his enemy takes aim. Here in the audience, heart rates increase and palms sweat.  I know this to be true because instead of enjoying the movie myself, I am measuring the brain activity of a dozen viewers. For me, excitement has a different source: I am watching an amazing neural ballet in which a story line changes the activity of people’s brains. Many business people have already discovered the power of storytelling in a practical sense – they have observed how compelling a well-constructed narrative can be. But recent scientific work is putting a much finer point on just how stories change our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. As social creatures, we depend on others for our survival and happiness. A decade ago, my lab discovered th....
Unlock Employee Innovation That Fits with Your Strategy

In innovation circles, empowerment is now a familiar theme; project teams working highly autonomously have been behind many of the world’s most innovative offerings. But my work with colleagues studying successful firms suggests that maximum innovative output occurs when contributors believe that they have absolute freedom to contribute and pursue innovative ideas, while at the same time, top management believes that it remains in complete control. This, I believe, is why creating innovation platforms is so valuable. You can think of platform management as an alternative to portfolio management in innovation – a popular approach right now. The idea that an enterprise should carefully construct a portfolio of innovation initiatives holds great appeal strategically, but in practice it has the downside of centralizing decision-makin....
Track Customer Experience, but Don’t Forget the Financials

Businesses are always on the hunt for customer feedback. They e-mail us surveys. They ask us to stay on the phone after a service call to rate the interaction. Many rely on metrics such as the Net Promoter Score to track how customers feel about them. The most disciplined firms not only exploit the data to identify problems with their products and services but also get everyone on staff involved in fixing them. This “customer experience” movement, if we can call it that, reminds me of the period a couple of decades ago when manufacturers (and others) discovered quality. Remember quality circles? Total Quality Management? Company after company learned to use new metrics and to address the root causes of problems. Front-line employees began monitoring their own output and figuring out improvements. It’s worth recalling this push ....
The Key to Change Is Middle Management

At the inaugural meeting of a change transformation effort under way at a hospital in San Jose, California, nurse Michelle delaCalle faced a room full of people who were discouraged by the organization’s earlier attempts at change. She stood and shared a story of her own about how making people wait for hours in the emergency department seemed like a violation of her caregiving role. Her story seemed to move people. “I could feel my own intensity,” she said, and when she was done speaking, she could tell that people finally understood the need to change. Change efforts often crumble into excruciatingly dull meetings and PowerPoint presentations. This hospital’s effort won’t, I believe, because of people like delaCalle. A mid-level manager in this 5,000-employee hospital, she is leading a 70-member group on p....
Stop Being So Positive

We’ve all heard a great deal about the power of positive thinking. Organizations encourage it among their employees in an effort to boost performance and engagement, and it’s a key tenet of “managing yourself” well; affirmative messages about perseverance, resilience, and vision adorn many an office wall. In the wake of the Great Recession, some businesses even hired happiness coaches to get their workers looking on the bright side. And an optimistic attitude is expected of leaders; politicians and corporate executives should always have that “think it-do it” spirit on display. There’s just one problem, however. Research my colleagues and I have performed over the past two decades suggests that positive thinking doesn’t actually help us as much as we suppose. In fact, across dozens of peer-revi....
Could a Four-Year-Old Do What Carl Icahn Does?

It’s a well-worn saying, presumably dating back to when art turned “modern”: “My four-year-old could do that.” Or “five-year-old,” or “kid,” or some other variant. Museum-goers, looking at a Rothko or a Pollock, scratched their heads and wondered exactly what made these works so valuable — while the seemingly similar messes their children brought home from art class were just… messes. I have my own version of this. Every time investor Carl Icahn makes headlines with another of his activist campaigns, I wonder, “Could my four-year-old do that?” There is a complication: I do not have a four-year-old. I do have a 15-year-old who could not in a million years be bothered to send Apple’s Tim Cook a letter urging him to “meaningfully accelerate and increase the magnitude of share repurchases.” Yet the simplic....
Why Superstars Struggle to Bond with Their Teams

From the moment you start each workday, you’re subject to two basic human impulses: to excel and to conform. If people in your immediate environment are amazing performers, you might be able to do both at once: By excelling, you fit the norm of your spectacular coworkers. But that’s rare. I’m pretty sure that in most work environments, as soon as you excel, you stop conforming. If you choose a high-performance path, you separate yourself from your coworkers. You’re not quite one of the bunch anymore. No matter how proud you are of your achievements, tell me it doesn’t hurt when you see your old group of friends coming back from a lunch that you somehow hadn’t known about. I was thinking about this while reading research on the psychological and social effects not of being a high performer but of experiencing an extraordin....
The Internet of Things Will Change Your Company, Not Just Your Products

I have had a front row seat as companies have struggled to enter the emerging world of the Internet of Things — first, 10 years ago as a vice president at Ambient Devices, an MIT Media Lab spinoff that was a pioneer in commercializing IoT devices, and then as a consultant. One of the biggest obstacles is that traditional functional departments often can’t meet the needs of IoT business models and have to evolve. Here are some of the challenges that I’ve observed: Product management. Successful IoT plays require more than simply adding connectivity to a product and charging for service — something many companies don’t immediately understand. Building an IoT offering requires design thinking from the get-go. Specifically, it requires reimagining the business you are in, empathizing with your target customers and their chall....
My Dentist 3D Printed My Crown

As a tech junkie and geek wannabe I’ve been paying attention to 3D printing and the exploding maker movement. When I say paying attention, I mean reading about it, watching hackers and hobbyists make stuff, and wondering if there is more to the technology than the brightly colored plastic tchotchkes cluttering my desk. 3D printing really hasn’t affected me yet. That is until I recently chipped a tooth and had no choice but to visit my family dentist. It was the dentist’s chair that more than any article or demo converted me to the potential of 3D printing. Sometimes disruption has to hit you right in the mouth before you pay attention. Now, I was no stranger to restorative dentistry. About seven years ago I had chipped another tooth that required a crown and didn’t remember the process fondly. It required multiple drawn out ....

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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