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If Snap’s Strategy Is Building New Products, It Won’t Live Up to Its IPO Price

In light of Snap’s IPO, there has been an immense amount of speculation about the long-term viability of the company’s strategy. Two elements of it have caught some attention: Snap’s statement that it is a “camera company,” and its intention to reinvest its revenues in developing new products that will take significant time and expense, but which it believes it can develop faster than competitors. How should you interpret the viability of Snap’s strategy amid the many opinions? The cacophony of commentaries isn’t unique to Snap; it also infects the general view of digital and digital transformation. The conventional wisdom holds that every industry is being disrupted and all the rules have changed. But have they? A close look at the core ideas of technology stra....
What CEOs Should Know About Speaking Up on Political Issues

The unpredictability of our current political environment, in the U.S. and around the globe, has drawn company leaders into a maelstrom. CEOs don’t know whether a presidential tweet will bring their company into the limelight, or whether a controversial policy will pressure them to speak out. For example, there was anxiety among CEOs about how to respond to President Trump’s recent executive order restricting immigration. There’s even an app that notifies users when the president tweets about a particular company. Should executives respond when a tweet or unexpected event touches their business or rouses their employees and customers? There are risks and rewards to CEO activism. Weber Shandwick, where I serve as chief reputation officer, and KRC Research surveyed 1,050 senior executives and 2,100 consumers acr....
How Founders Can Recognize and Combat Depression

Eric is, by all means, a very successful entrepreneur. His technology company has grown considerably in the past five years. He’s raised two rounds of funding, has a customer base in the thousands, and is managing a team of eight employees. Although admired by fellow entrepreneurs, Eric harbors a dark secret: He goes home every night feeling extremely exhausted and unhappy. Naturally a quiet person, Eric has become distressed by the endless networking, fundraising, and people management that he is required to do. He feels physically and emotionally drained, no longer able to sleep well or concentrate during the day. He finds that work is no longer as enjoyable as it used to be, so his motivation and performance have taken a hit. Eric has a classic example of founder depression. Usually marked by sadness or a loss of interest in act....
When Was the Last Time You Took On a New Challenge?

Each January brings a renewed desire to challenge ourselves and learn something new. But by February the energy starts to wane. Becoming proficient at something takes too much time, we lose motivation to practice, we struggle to pay attention in class after a long day at work — the list of reasons goes on. I recently came across some motivation to stick with a new pursuit. A few weeks ago I read an article in the New York Times about “superagers,” people who function at extremely high levels (academically, professionally, and physically) well into their eighties. Their performance on tests of memory and concentration is comparable to people one-third their age. All the superagers engaged in difficult physical and mental tasks, such as tennis or bridge, regularly. By pushing themselves into challenging efforts ....
Being Engaged at Work Is Not the Same as Being Productive

The holy grail of today’s workplace is high employee engagement. According to Gallup’s oft-cited research on the topic, just about one-third of U.S. employees are engaged on the job. That number drops to 13% worldwide, and has held steady for years. Many companies are investing heavily to identify what leads to high engagement in order to motivate employees, thereby increasing their happiness and productivity. We think this is important. But based on our research with several large companies, we want to offer a word of caution: Engagement is often an ambiguous term. Depending on how it’s measured, engagement could represent job satisfaction, emotional investment in the cause, willingness to invest discretionary effort, or advocating for the company as a good place to work. While many studies suggest that increased ....
Why You Should Buy a Business (and How to Do It)

Richard S. Ruback and Royce Yudkoff, professors at Harvard Business School, spell out an overlooked career path: buying a business and running it as CEO. Purchasing a small company lets you become your own boss and reap financial rewards without the risks of founding a start-up. Still, there are things you need to know. Ruback and Yudkoff are the authors of the HBR Guide to Buying a Small Business. Download this podcast
Is Corporate Short-Termism Really a Problem? The Jury’s Still Out

McKinsey has a new study out on an important topic — the question of whether corporations systematically take too short a view and do not invest enough for the long term. If they do, as many CEOs believe, this is a serious indictment of current corporate governance arrangements and has important policy implications. To take one close to my heart, if short-termism causes underinvestment, it will be a cause of secular stagnation. I am not sure what to believe in this area. On the one hand, there are many anecdotes suggesting that pressures to manage earnings hold back investment. And the short-termism view is very widely believed. On the other hand, some of what is done in the name of managing for the long term may be unmonitored waste. The observation that many “unicorn” companies with no profits — and sometim....
How Non-English-Speaking Countries Stack Up on English Proficiency

It’s the language of international business.
How Chief Data Officers Can Get Their Companies to Collect Clean Data

In analytics, nothing matters more than data quality. The practical way to control data quality is to do it at the point where the data is created. Cleaning up data downstream is expensive and not scalable, because data is a byproduct of business processes and operations like marketing, sales, plant operations, and so on. But controlling data quality at the point of creation requires a change in the behaviors of those creating the data and the IT tools they use. Enter the chief data officer, or CDO. CEOs are increasingly adding the CDO role to their management teams to tackle the big business issues that come with data. Plenty of CDOs want to improve data quality, but motivating this change requires that CDOs create new organizational incentives and processes. Without the ability to do both, their efforts will fall flat. Here&#....
Even Life-Saving Innovations Don’t Sell Themselves

Most businesses wouldn’t survive without driving demand for their products or services, either through marketing and advertising or through involving users so deeply in the design of the product that word of mouth spurs adoption. The same is true for social innovators. However, unlike many business leaders, it is easy for social innovators to overlook making an intentional effort to drive demand because the need for their innovation is so great. But even the most needed innovation does not sell itself. Consider that 86 million U.S. adults were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes in 2015. That’s one in three people. At the same time, some 1,000 nonprofits and community-based organizations were offering a drug-free solution to help avoid developing diabetes, but they weren’t sufficiently publicizing&....
Requiring Companies to Disclose Climate Risks Helps Everyone

In the movie Forrest Gump, the protagonist becomes a very rich man due to a natural disaster and its unforeseen business consequences. When he first enters the shrimp boating business, Forrest catches no shrimp. His fortunes change when a hurricane strikes and his boat is the only one to survive the disaster. Facing no competition, he becomes a multimillionaire. It’s a funny scene, and it illustrates an economic truth: Businesses are often unprepared for environmental disaster. Policy makers have recognized as much, and in recent years the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken actions to force companies to disclose climate change–related risks. The Trump administration has threatened to roll back those requirements, which would hurt companies, investors, and consumers. Over 20 years ago, Harvard Business Sch....
The Most Desirable Employee Benefits

In today’s hiring market, a generous benefits package is essential for attracting and retaining top talent. According to Glassdoor’s 2015 Employment Confidence Survey, about 60% of people report that benefits and perks are a major factor in considering whether to accept a job offer. The survey also found that 80% of employees would choose additional benefits over a pay raise. Google is famous for its over-the-top perks, which include lunches made by a professional chef, biweekly chair massages, yoga classes, and haircuts. Twitter employees enjoy three catered meals per day, on-site acupuncture, and improv classes. SAS has a college scholarship program for the children of employees. And plenty of smaller companies have received attention for their unusual benefits, such as vacation expense reimbursement and free books. Bu....
You Should Consider Buying a Small Business. But When?

For the past five years, we have taught a course at Harvard Business School that prepares students to search for, purchase, and run a small business. The course is always taught in the spring term of the second year of the two-year program, and indeed, as graduation looms, our students have to decide whether they will look for a company to buy and, if so, when to do it. Each year roughly a third of the 80 or so students decide to begin their search right after graduation; a third decide that the career path doesn’t make sense for them, at least in the near term; and a third tell us they plan to work for a few years, learn a bit more about business, fulfill some obligations, pay off some debts, but that surely, in two years or less, they will be searching for a business to buy. Here is the rub: Only one or two of thos....
The Rise of AI Makes Emotional Intelligence More Important

The booming growth of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), like most transformational technologies, is both exciting and scary. It’s exciting to consider all the ways our lives may improve, from managing our calendars to making  medical diagnoses, but it’s scary to consider the social and personal implications — and particularly the implications for our careers. As machine learning continues to grow, we all need to develop new skills in order to differentiate ourselves. But which ones? It’s long been known that AI and automation/robotics will change markets and workforces. Self-driving cars will force over three thousand truck drivers to seek new forms of employment, and robotic production lines like Tesla’s will continue to eat away at manufacturing jobs, which are currently at 12 million....
Sleep-Deprived Judges Dole Out Harsher Punishments

One of the unpleasant aspects of being a manager is that you have to deal with employees who engage in punishable offenses, such as taking credit for another employee’s work, blaming someone else for a mistake, harassing a coworker, or violating company policies. Some typical disciplinary actions might include reassignment, suspension, formal performance write-ups, eliminating bonuses, or even firing. A good manager knows that these types of consequences are only effective if they are proportionate to the infraction. Too light, and they will not sufficiently communicate the severity of the infraction, both to the employee who broke the rules and to the peers who are watching. Too heavy, and you create an unfair environment that violates everyone’s expectations for justice. We all want to believe that we are fair jud....
3 Ways to Make Time for the Little Tasks You Never Make Time For

We’d all like to spend our time at work on high-value activities: setting strategy, fostering innovation, mentoring promising employees, and more. But every professional faces a relentless deluge of niggling tasks — the overflowing inbox, the introductions you promised to make, the stack of paperwork you have to file, or the articles you really ought to read. This low-value work is particularly vexing in light of the Pareto Principle, the adage — now gospel in Silicon Valley and many business circles — that 20% of your activities are responsible for 80% of the value you create. If you can jettison what’s least important, the thinking goes, you can double down on what’s driving your most important contributions. Indeed, sometimes you can let go of these activities. But you have to recognize, and re....
A Better Metric for the Value of a Worker Training Program

The United States has thousands of workforce development and training programs, run by the public, social, and private sectors. Some are excellent; others, not so much. The problem is that we don’t know which are which. That lack of knowledge is costly. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, spending on programs in the U.S. for those not going to four-year colleges — everything from federal and state jobs initiatives to on-the-job training, certifications, community college, and employer training — is at least $300 billion a year. But according to the World Bank, only 30% of youth employment programs are successful, with many of those offering only marginal benefit. And most programs have no positive effect at all. Yet workplace training is more necessary than ever, as technology a....
Want to Be More Productive? Sit Next to Someone Who Is

To increase worker performance, employers often invest in a number of things, from rewards and incentives to education and training. These traditional approaches develop employees’ skills and enrich their work experience. But we discovered a surprisingly simple way to increase productivity, one that was low-cost and had immediate impact: better office seating arrangements. Research we conducted suggests that who an employee sits next to affects how they perform — and grouping the right types of coworkers together can improve productivity and work quality. We analyzed two years’ worth of data on more than 2,000 employees of a large technology company with several locations in the U.S. and Europe. (The company is a client of Cornerstone OnDemand, which one of us, Jason, works for.) We created unique identifiers for each w....
A Wall Won’t Secure the U.S.-Mexico Border, but Economic Policy Could

President Trump campaigned on a promise to “build a great, great wall on our southern border.” After he was inaugurated as president, his administration said it was considering taxing imports from Mexico to cover the estimated cost of $21.6 billion. (That Department of Homeland Security estimate is roughly double Trump’s price tag of $8–$12 billion; others peg the cost much higher). Many economists were quick to note how such a tax would raise the cost of Mexican goods in the United States and violate Trump’s other campaign promise to “make Mexico pay.” In practice, Americans would pay twice: up front for the wall, and again in the form of higher prices for Mexican goods. It’s not realistic to erect a physical barrier and to shove the costs on a ....
A Better Way to Set Strategic Priorities

Smart leaders understand that their job requires them to identify trade-offs, choosing what not to do as much as what to do. Grading the importance of various initiatives in an environment of finite resources is a primary test of leadership. To meet this challenge, leaders often turn to rank ordering their priorities; it is natural and easy to make a list. When I work with leaders on the crucial task of priority setting, however, I caution against rank ordering. It can be tremendously demotivating to managers to be assigned a rank, and it all but guarantees dissension and turf wars among team members. A better way to establish priorities is to put rank ordering aside and return to first principles. To wit: There are three interdependent variables that are essential for executing any initiative — objectives, resources, and timi....
A Refresher on Discovery-Driven Planning

You’re working on a new venture and you know you’ve got to create a plan to execute it. So you look at past projects, gather and analyze relevant market data, make predictions about how much revenue you’ll be able to generate, decide what resources you’ll need, and set milestones to reach your targets. Right? Not so fast. That process might work for conventional or ongoing business lines, but new ventures, which are less predictable, require a different set of planning and control tools. That’s where the discovery-driven planning (DDP) process comes in. I talked with Rita McGrath, a professor at Columbia Business School, who together with Ian MacMillan, of the University of Pennsylvania’s business school, developed this classic methodology for planning innovation. Their goal was to help entreprene....
Repealing Obamacare Would Be Bad News for the Gig Economy

The gig economy is growing and here to stay, yet the future of one key labor policy that supports it is uncertain: The Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare. The ACA is critical to the continued growth of the gig economy because it separates the ability to obtain health insurance from the need to hold a traditional full-time job. It gives all independent workers — consultants, contractors, freelancers, part-time, and on-demand workers — a way to obtain health insurance coverage without relying on an employer. Today, 20%–40% of the workforce works independently, and that share is only projected to grow. The repeal of the ACA without a comparable replacement will bring America back to the days when obtaining health insurance essentially meant working in a traditional jo....
Big Companies Don’t Pay as Well as They Used To

For much of the 20th century, workers at big companies were paid better than workers at small ones. An employee of a company with more than 500 employees historically earned 30%–50% more than someone doing the same job at a firm with fewer than 25 employees, for instance. But the pay gap between large and small companies has narrowed in recent years, and that decline is one reason for rising inequality in America. It’s also a reminder that inequality is deeply intertwined with the day-to-day decisions companies make, say, about outsourcing manufacturing, or contracting with a caterer, or aiming for vertical integration, or focusing on the core. Big firms began doing countless things differently over the last few decades, for just as many reasons. But one major difference in big companies today compared t....
Will Federal Employees Work for a President They Disagree With?

After the inauguration of President Trump, there were numerous stories about federal employees leaving the State Department, with perhaps more to follow in environmental and scientific agencies. A number of former government officials expressed worry that the departures would deprive the government of expertise and continuity precisely when they are most necessary. This raises the question: How much turnover is normal when a new administration takes office? We set out to answer this question with data obtained from the United States government’s Office of Personnel Management. We followed the careers of millions of federal employees from 1988 and 2011 to determine the effect of new presidential administrations on their career choices. It turns out that when a new administration is sworn in, it is not just the former president&....
Most Reorgs Aren’t Ambitious Enough

For many executives, the concept of organization design is an oxymoron. They are so consumed by working in the organization that they lack the patience to work on the organization. They don’t do the intricate, complex work of configuring their organization to execute strategy. Instead, they shift boxes on an organization chart, bolt on more resources that were lobbied for by a zealous executive, or cut costs across the board. They focus on communicating messages more inclusively or reassigning stronger leaders to troubled departments. These are surface-level, counterfeit solutions, and they do more harm than good. And yet when it comes to reorganization, they’re the norm. According to one McKinsey study, the success rate for organizational redesign efforts is less than 25%. It’s much more common for reorg efforts r....

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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