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The Chief Innovation Officer’s 100-Day Plan

Congratulations! Your energy and track record of successfully launching high-impact initiatives scored you a plum role heading up innovation. Expectations are high, but some skeptics in the organization feel that innovation is an overhyped buzzword that doesn’t justify being a separate function. So, what can you do in your first 100 days to set things off on the right track? Over the past decade we’ve helped dozens of leaders through their first 100 days. Based on our experience, augmented by in-depth interviews with a few of the most seasoned practitioners with which we have worked, we suggest that innovation leaders put the following five items on their 100-day punch list. Spend quality time with every member of the executive committee. This should go without saying, but it’s vitally important to develop relationships with th....
Too Many Marketing Teams Are Stuck in the Past

Many marketing organizations are still operating like it’s the 1990s — or even earlier. Duplicative marketing teams exist within the same company across multiple product lines. Digital marketing teams are centralized yet isolated from the broader organization. Marketing groups are splintered into communications, consumer marketing, brand marketing, and digital marketing units with no common thread in strategy and execution. Over the past dozen years, I have participated in both the infusion of digital capabilities into traditional marketing organizations and the establishment and maturation of digital marketing organizations at Disney, J.Crew and, now, Conde Nast Entertainment where I am VP of marketing-digital. Based on this experience, I see five areas that need to change in order for marketing to function effectively in t....
Algorithms Make Better Predictions — Except When They Don’t

Predictive analytics is proving itself both powerful and perilous. Powerful, because advanced algorithms can take a near-unlimited number of factors into account, provide deep insights into variation, and scale to meet the needs of even the largest company. Perilous, because bad data and hidden false assumptions can seriously mislead. Further, algorithms cannot (yet, anyway) tap intuition — the soft factors that are not data inputs, the tacit knowledge that experienced managers deploy every day, nor the creative genius of innovators. So what should managers, especially leaders, do? The obvious answer is employ both computer-based programs and your own intuition. In this post, I’ll use a series of simple plots to explain how to tap the potential of predictive analytics, sidestep the perils, and bring both the data and your good ju....
Get Over Your Fear of Sales

When you graduate from college with a degree in communication studies and rhetoric, the business world can look very confusing. Unsure of where I fit in, I explored options. Many friends suggested sales. I was doubtful. I worried that being in sales would not carry the prestige and credibility I so badly wanted as I started my professional career. I was also having a hard time getting excited about selling any particular product. Then I interviewed with a partner at a (then) Big Six consulting firm. He talked about an opportunity to work on “leveraging the most important assets in the firm— its people.” “That sounds terrific,” I said, thinking that matched my interests, “What function is that?” The partner replied, “Human resource management.” My 22-year-old self thought, How cool is that? It even has management in ....
Workers Don’t Have the Skills They Need – and They Know It

How do workers feel about the adequacy of their skills? Until now, few studies have examined their views. Today, a survey of employees is being released that provides strong confirmation of the notion that employees need better skills to do their jobs well, especially skills related to technology. Over the past decade, employers have repeatedly reported that they have difficulty finding workers with the skills needed for today’s jobs. But influential voices have challenged this finding. For instance, The New York Times Editorial Board calls the notion of a skills gap “mostly a corporate fiction,” saying “don’t blame the workforce.” They claim that employers just “want schools and, by extension, the government to take on more of the costs of training workers that used to be covered by companies as part of on-the-job empl....
People Are More Selfish and Dishonest After Doing Math

Research participants who had spent 15 minutes solving math problems were 4 times more likely to lie for personal gain in an ethics game than those who had answered randomly selected verbal questions from a standardized test, says a team led by Long Wang of the City University of Hong Kong. The act of calculating appears to crowd out people’s social and moral concerns, resulting in behavior that is more self-interested and even immoral. Stimuli such as family photos that prompt thoughts about social values appear to diminish these negative effects, the researchers say.
What Apple Gets Right with Its Smartwatch

When people say Apple has built things people didn’t know they need, it’s not really true. Apple has built things that meet the needs people have always had. More than any other consumer company, Apple gets what people really, fundamentally need. That’s why announcements like last week’s Apple Watch tend to have the cultural impact they do. When we think of needs and products we often go right to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the ubiquitous theory that human needs manifest in a specific sequence, from base survival to the pinnacle of self-actualization. Marketers have spent decades figuring out at what level of Maslow’s hierarchy their customers are stuck, and then offering products and marketing for that need. Think of Campbell’s “Mmm-mmm Good” campaign at one end and Lexus’s “Relentless Purs....
A Brief History of America’s Attitude Toward Taxes

The changing attitudes toward and laws around income taxes has been a major driver of the rise of America’s modern talent-based, knowledge economy. Two things strike me as I study the history. First, it is hard to see the historical development of US income taxation as a gradual evolution. Rather, it is characterized by major swings. Second, it is interesting to see a very consistent cycle in the tax treatment of the super-rich. I think that today we are approaching an inflection point. Unless we do something about the current set up, the tax system may end up as a major factor in the fall of that talent economy. As I see it, the tax system has moved through four distinct eras over the last century and a half. During each era, government and society subscribed to a theory about what taxes were for, which was eventually repla....
Why Terrorist Groups Are So Bureaucratic

I typed the words into the pristine white search field, hoping they didn’t land me on the NSA’s no-fly list: “How to manage a terrorist organization.” There is a lot of academic work out there on what constitutes terrorism; the psychology of terrorists and terrorist acts; and the military precepts of asymmetric warfare. There’s not a lot on the basic management issues faced by your run-of-the-mill al Qaeda cell. But that’s exactly what Princeton professor and former Naval officer Jacob Shapiro studies. The author of The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations and numerous academic papers on the topic, he examines terrorist groups like al Qaeda, Islamic State (also known as ISIS), and others through an organizational lens. I called him to pick his brain about it. What follows are edited excerpts of our....
Making African Health Care Radically Cheaper

When I flew into Lagos last month – only a few days after Nigeria had confirmed its first case of the Ebola Virus Disease – the city was clearly deep in risk management mode. Government agencies were scrambling to communicate consistent information releases to locals, while international companies were lining up employees at airport departure lounges to fly them to safety. Nearby in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the situation was even more dire, with border closures and international flight bans in full force. And it’s no wonder. As the tragedy of this particular Ebola outbreak has grown, it has become increasingly evident that health systems across West Africa are painfully underprepared to handle such a crisis. Diseases like Ebola do not discriminate between the rich or poor; West Africa needs health delivery syst....
What Good Is Impact Investing?

Impact investing is on the rise. Yay! But, um, what is it? Last year, Michael Drexler and Abigail Noble of the World Economic Forum took a stab at defining it as “an investment approach intentionally seeking to create both financial return and positive social impact that is actively measured.” That is, you have to intend to do good, and you have to measure whether you’re succeeding. This was in a report called From the Margins to the Mainstream that did a lot to introduce impact investing to the wider investing world. Now Drexler and Noble are out with a new report, Charting the Course, that gets more into the nitty gritty of how one might go about investing with impact. (In something of a sign of the times, it’s not the only big impact-investing report out this week; the G8 Social Impact Investment Task Force has weigh....
Use Data to Fix the Small Business Lending Gap

Access to credit is a key constraint for entrepreneurs. And limited credit is in part caused by the difficulty of predicting which small businesses will and won’t succeed. In the past, a community bank would have a relationship with the businesses on Main Street, and when it came time for a loan, there would be a wealth of informal information to augment the loan application. Today, community banks are being consolidated and larger banks are relying more and more on data-driven credit scoring to make small business loans—if they are making them at all. With larger volumes of data being used to analyze everything from the genome to traffic patterns and lunch choices, it is natural to ask whether big data can crack the code on small business credit risk. There is reason for optimism. My recent Harvard Business School Working Paper ....
If You’re Feminine-Faced, You’re Better Off Negotiating by Phone

Prior to online negotiations with strangers, research participants indicated that they expected greater cooperation if photos of the strangers (whether male or female) showed more-feminine facial features, such as less-prominent eyebrow ridges and smaller noses (6.84 versus 6.05 for strangers with less-feminine features, on a 7-point expected-cooperation scale). In subsequent negotiations, participants also demanded significantly more from feminine-faced counterparts, say Eric Gladstone and Kathleen M. O’Connor of Cornell. Masculine-faced people enter negotiations with a built-in advantage, because their counterparts tend to demand less of them, the researchers suggest.
A Test to Weed Out Consultants You Shouldn’t Hire

We’ve seen a lot of consulting “misses” over the years — polished management products and services that fail to achieve what the clients want. Often it’s because executives recruit their consultants the wrong way. They usually start the search sensibly — looking for recommendations from respected colleagues or friends, a reputation for cutting-edge work, a portfolio of similar jobs done elsewhere, deep subject-matter expertise, and industry experience. These are all good reasons to include a firm in your initial list of candidates. But once you’ve narrowed down the field to a few contenders and carefully read their proposals, it’s important to test them on two other dimensions: Compatibility: Dig into how they operate. Have them describe their style of interaction with clients. For instance, do they want your ....
The Marshmallow Test for Grownups

Originally conducted by psychologist Walter Mischel in the late 1960s, the Stanford marshmallow test has become a touchstone of developmental psychology. Children at Stanford’s Bing Nursery School, aged four to six, were placed in a room furnished only with a table and chair. A single treat, selected by the child, was placed on the table. (In addition to marshmallows, the researchers also offered Oreo cookies and pretzel sticks.) Each child was told if they waited for 15 minutes before eating the treat, they would be given a second treat. Then they were left alone in the room. Follow-up studies with the children later in adolescence showed a correlation between an ability to wait long enough to obtain a second treat and various forms of life success, such as higher SAT scores. And a 2011 fMRI study conducted on 59 original particip....
You Need a Community, Not a Network

The internet is great for spreading information and rallying crowds, but you can’t mobilize people to collaborate and create something of lasting value simply by connecting them via the web. To get serious results from a network, you need commitment and a continuity of relationships among the participants. To borrow language from the philosopher Avishai Margalit, the web is a “thin we” type of network. Participants tend to belong for individualistic reasons. They have little in common with other members, and they’re reluctant to do much for the network. A big goal requires a “thick we” network — a community of people who feel responsible for collaborating toward a shared purpose that they see as superseding their individual needs. Members of a community — as opposed to a simple network — expect relationships within ....
Rethinking the Bank Branch in a Digital World

More US bank branches closed in 2013 than ever before. More than 85% of retail banking transactions are now digital. The bank branch is “going south,” mobile-banking entrepreneur Brett King said to CNBC. “And there’s no reason to assume we’ll see a resurgence of activity at the branch—the mobile app is the nail in the coffin.” So are we witnessing the death throes of brick-and-mortar retail banking? Will banking soon be like the business of selling recorded music—almost all done online? In our view, no. Rather than going the way of Tower Records, leading banks are reinventing themselves with innovative mashups of digital technologies and physical facilities, a combination we call “digical.” Here’s why. Banking isn’t like selling records or music CDs. A bank’s products and services are often complicated. Secu....
Prevent Your Strategy Offsite from Being Meaningless

I was facilitating the two-day executive offsite of a mid-sized technology company. The goal of the meeting was to solve major issues and identify potential opportunities that would guide their efforts, as a company, for the next year. We were halfway through the first day and, while everything was going according to plan, I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. I struggled to put my finger on it. I took in the scene. The CEO and all his direct reports were sitting around the board room table and everyone was engaged. People were being respectful, listening to each other without interrupting, asking clarifying questions, and moving efficiently from one presentation to the next. Everyone seemed satisfied; the presentations and conversations were useful and clear. Because everyone seemed satisfied, I was....
LEGO’s Girl Problem Starts with Management

This summer, LEGO launched a minor revolution. It introduced professional women – scientists, no less – into its latest toy line aimed at girls. The new figurines – called “minifigs” by Lego die-hards – feature a female palaeontologist, an astronomer, and a chemist. They sold out on the first day. This, after years of mediocre “pink” products that did little to grow Lego’s share of the girls’ toy aisle. Why did it take until 2014 for the world’s second-largest toy maker to offer girls (and their toy-buying parents) products they might actually want? (After all, even Barbie has been an astronaut since 1965.) Perhaps it has something to do with the profile of LEGO’s management team, comprised almost entirely of men. The three-person board of the privately-held company is all men, led by CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp....
People’s Creative Output Depends on the Initial Stimulus

In a series of experiments, the novelty of people’s creative output was affected by the novelty of the raw materials they were initially exposed to, says Justin M. Berg of The Wharton School. For example, students who were asked to come up with product ideas for a university bookstore tended to produce ideas that were rated higher in novelty (3.82 versus 3.05 on a 7-point novelty scale) if they were first shown a fishing pole rather than a whiteboard. Conversely, participants’ output tended to be more useful and less novel if they initially saw less-novel items, Berg says.
How Cities Are Using Analytics to Improve Public Health

From clean water supplies to the polio vaccine, the most effective public health interventions are typically preventative policies that help stop a crisis before it starts. But predicting the next public health crisis has historically been a challenge, and even interventions like chlorinating water or distributing a vaccine are in many ways reactive. Thanks to predictive analytics, we are piloting new ways to predict public health challenges, so we can intervene and stop them before they ever begin. We can use predictive analytics to leverage seemingly unrelated data to predict who is most susceptible to birth complications or chronic diseases or where and when a virulent outbreak is most likely to occur. With this information, public health officials should be able to respond before the issue manifests itself – providing the right....
Why the Apple Watch Is a Gift to the Swiss Watch Industry

The launch of the Apple Watch this week has raised questions about its impact on the Swiss watch industry. Contrary to Apple designer Jony Ive’s remarks that the Swiss watch could be in trouble, there are several reasons why the Swiss have nothing to fear from Apple’s success. First, the Apple Watch makes wearing a watch relevant to a new generation of future watch collectors. I often ask other professors around the world how many of their students wear watches. The answer is always the same: “very few.” For many young adults who have grown up using their cell phone to tell time, the idea of wearing a watch is the equivalent of sending a telegraph or storing data on a floppy disk. The Apple Watch introduces the concept of wearing a watch to many of Apple’s 18 to 35 target market. If it takes off, it is likely that these buy....
3 Reasons to Kill Influencer Marketing

Marketers like to repeat the quote, “I know I waste half of my ad budget, I just don’t know which half.”  No one knows who first said it—it’s been attributed to a number of people—but the fact that it gets repeated so often is testament to how strongly it resonates. So it shouldn’t be surprising that marketers like the idea of “influentials,” seemingly ordinary people who determine what others think, do and buy.  A recent study of 1300 marketers found that 74% of them planned to invest in influencer marketing over the next 12 months. However, there’s good reason to believe that it’s all a waste of time and effort.  While the idea of influentials may be intuitively convincing, there is very little, if any, evidence that they actually can improve performance—or even exist at all.  So before you embark on ano....
Your Company’s Energy Data Is an Untapped Resource

Most companies are unprepared for the emerging revolution in predictive energy analytics. In fact, many readers’ eyes will have already glazed over at the preceding sentence, with the natural initial reaction that energy-related data isn’t relevant to their jobs. But what happens when every single light fixture in all of your company’s facilities becomes a networked mini-computer with an array of sensors? Who at your company will be put in charge of turning buildings operations from a cost center to a revenue center? These examples are not hypothetical capabilities; these are now real options for companies. And yet few corporate managers are asking such questions, much less taking advantage. Cost Savings Chances are, energy-related spending has a significant impact on your company’s profitability. There are ov....
Why Your Brain Hates Performance Reviews

Your Brain Will Thank You Kill Your Performance Ratingsstrategy+businessNo one likes performance reviews, and one reason is that we've seemingly locked ourselves into a doctrine of numerical rankings. Your company might not be as extreme as Jack Welch’s GE, which famously relied on forced rankings to cull weaker managers (a system still in use by more than half of Fortune 500 firms as of 2012), but chances are your company has given you a number that puts you in a specific spot on the employee continuum. There must be a better way, and strategy+business turns to neuroscience to figure out what that is. In general, there are two explanations for why PM doesn't work: One, merely being ranked provokes a "fight or flight” response, which gets in the way of "thoughtful, reflective conversations" (but is great for when you're being ch....

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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