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Best content from the best source handpicked by Shyam. The source include The Harvard University, MIT, Mckinsey & Co, Wharton, Stanford,and other top educational institutions. domains include Cybersecurity, Machine learning, Deep Learning, Bigdata, Education, Information Technology, Management, others.

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    For decades, developing medicine to treat disease was a lengthy and often discouraging process: create a drug, test on a lab animal, hold a human clinical trial, and hope to calibrate an effective dose to kill the disease without devastating the patient.
    Now, researchers at the Broad Institute of Harvard and the MIT are tapping the human genome mapped by its founders, hoping to create effective treatments for vexing afflictions.
    “When you rely on biology — not models but real humans — to reveal the root cause of the disease, the good news is you can discover insights for even the most daunting ones, like schizophrenia,” said Stuart L. Schreiber, Ph.D. ’81, director of the year-old Center for the Science of Therapeutics.
    Schreiber made his remarks Wednesday during a presentation on “The Road to Vital Therapy,” part of the Broad’s midsummer science lecture series. More than 500 people registered for the event, which focused on the institute’s efforts in what it called “chemistry-enabled, patient-based drug discovery.”
    Schreiber, who is also Morris Loeb Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biography at Harvard, said drug discovery over the past 40 years has been a “daunting” process that can take as long as 15 years, fail 90 percent of the time, and often miss its mark.
    071013_Broad_Schreiber_570
    “When you rely on biology — not models but real humans — to reveal the root cause of the disease, the good news is you can discover insights for even the most daunting ones, like schizophrenia,” said Stuart L. Schreiber.
    Rather than focusing on traditional experiments, Broad researchers look to biology and chemistry — what Schreiber called “experiments in nature.” One is underway on Crohn’s disease, a painful inflammatory bowel ailment that afflicts as many as 700,000 Americans; it is expected to yield fruitful results.
    Broad researchers know that some Crohn’s genes are normal, some are not, and others protect against the disease. The institute’s goal is to find a drug therapy that fixes the gene that gives a person Crohn’s.
    Schreiber said a remaining challenge is that the work identifying genetic targets is too advanced for the chemists devising medical therapies. The Crohn’s gene target “pocket” that would hold the medicine is three-dimensional, while most drugs are two. Broad scientists are working on a solution.
    Genomic information isn’t a magic elixir, though. James E. Bradner ’94, associate director of the Center for Science of Therapeutics and an investigator at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said that researchers thought when the human genome was sequenced, drugs could be made for each cancer-causing mutation.
    It turns out that there are a million unique cancer mutations in 24,000 genes. Many are passenger mutations — those caused by “smoking, chewing tobacco, breathing air, or bad luck.” At least 480 contribute to cancer, while 149 are known to cause it, Bradner said.
    Like Schreiber, Bradner believes that new drugs aimed at single genetic targets are the answer, when the technology to create them catches up.
    “We need new technologies, multiple avenues of therapy targeting these” mutations, said Bradner, a physician-scientist who is also an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “One of the obstacles is we may not have the technology we need.”
    Schreiber, speaking afterward, said he is hopeful that genomics and chemistry can be integrated to develop drugs to undermine stubborn diseases.
    “I’m optimistic because there’s a blueprint, a roadmap to get there,” Schreiber said. “It’s not going to be easy, but it’s very different from 10 years ago, when you didn’t know how difficult or easy it would be when you didn’t have the roadmap. Now, we just need to keep a laser focus.”
    Vivian Siegel, director of education and outreach, moderated. Alykhan Shamji ’00, Ph.D ’05, executive director of the Broad’s Center for the Science of Therapeutics, Michael A. Foley, director of the Therapeutics Platform, and Brian Hubbard, director of the center’s Therapeutics Projects Group, also were on the panel.


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    The Form And Spirit Of Ramadan


    By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan 


    Ramadan is the ninth month of the Hijri calendar. Muslims are enjoined to observe fasting from daybreak to sunset during this month. Fasting is an annual worship in the Islamic faith and one of the five spiritual pillars of Islam. 

    What is the purpose of this annual practice? The answer can be had from the Quran. “The month of Ramadan is the month when the Quran was sent down as guidance for mankind with clear proofs of guidance and the criterion by which to distinguish right from wrong.” (2:185) 

    The Arabic word for fasting is ‘sawm’ meaning abstinence, restraint from desires. That is, saving oneself from all kinds of distraction, including basic needs, for a temporary period of time. 

    The main purpose of fasting is going through the Quran with complete focus and dedication. This is a very serious study. So, believers are required to keep away from all other activities, and concentrate their minds totally on  the study of the Quran. 

    In terms of form, the month of Ramadan is the month of fasting. But, in terms of spirit, the month of Ramadan is a month of self-training. Muslims are required to observe the month of Ramadan as a month of introspection in the light of Quranic teachings. 

    The Quran is a divine criterion; it helps us examine our deeds and differentiate the right from the wrong. The Quran is like a divine mirror, in which Muslims can see their true face. They can identify the mistakes they have made in the past in order that they may mend their ways. 

    A believer prepares himself and starts reading the Quran with an open mind. Then he reaches this Quranic verse: “Whatever misfortune befalls you is of your own doing.” (42:30). 

    If the reader is sincere and reads this verse with an open mind, he will apply it to his own life and to the life of the Muslim ummah. By doing so he will discover that anything which Muslims have suffered in the past was not due to anti-Muslim forces, rather it was entirely Muslims’ own mistakes. 

    This discovery will produce brainstorming in his mind and he will decide with complete determination.Then during the study of the Quran, the believer reaches this verse: “God alters not what is with people, until they alter what is within them.” (13:11).

     If the believer is sincere in the true sense of the word, this Quranic verse is bound to make a deep impression on his mind. He will find the proper line of action for the future. He will decide that we have to completely abandon the language of complaint and protest against others because, according to the divine law, that will not work. 

    We will have to bring about reform in our own lives. This is the precondition enshrined in the Quran. If we fulfill this condition, we will be able to receive divine help, and divine help is guarantee of all kinds of success. 

    This is the main purpose of fasting. Fasting in the month of Ramadan is like a spiritual rehearsal for every Muslim. If this annual practice is done in the true spirit, it is bound to revolutionise the condition of Muslims, both individually and collectively.

    View at the original source


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    IN BUSINESS, EVERYBODY USES SOCIAL MEDIA FOR WORK; THE QUESTION IS HOW


    You can no longer segment your business customers into those who use social media for business purposes and those who do not. Why not? Because according to Forrester’s newest B2B Social Technographics® numbers, fully 100% of business decision-makers use social media for work purposes. Other stunningly high numbers: 98% of business decision-makers are Spectators (they read blogs, watch videos, or listen to podcasts), 79% are Joiners (they maintain a profile on social networking sites), and 75% are Critics (they comment on blogs and post ratings and reviews), all in the context of their business activities.

    Therefore, it’s no longer a question of whether you should use social, but how. B2B marketing executives no longer need convincing to invest in social. However, social marketing efforts are maturing beyond experimentation — where measuring results is secondary — to science. At this more advanced stage of maturity, marketers need to understand exactly how and when their customers are using social and target them differently in each stage of the customer life cycle.

    Your customers don’t make blanket use of “social media,” “social networks,” or “communities” in general. Instead, they use specific social networks and communities for specific goals, both personal and business-related. The communities your customers visit for personal reasons are not always the ones they use for business purposes.

    For business purposes, the No. 1 and No. 2 communities aren’t specific public social networks but “niche” communities focused on specific objectives. For example, business technology buyers might visit IT Central Station or Spiceworks to learn more about multiple competing technologies at once; alternatively, they might visit a community managed by a single brand, such as the Cisco Communities or SAP Community Network (SCN).

    On the other hand, Facebook is more popular as a consumer community than a business one. While 81% of business decision-makers use Facebook at least monthly, more than half use it exclusively for personal purposes and only 2% use it exclusively for business. So B2B marketers should begin by focusing on more business-centric communities and on LinkedIn.

    For more detail on where business decision-makers spend their time, check out this graphic:

    Bussiness Decision-Makers Rely on Communities

    I encourage you to use this data to understand how your customers and prospects use social media as a part of their professional lives in order to inform the rest of your social marketing decisions as part of Forrester’s POST — People, Objectives, Strategy, and Tactics/Technology — strategy for social marketing.



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    How To Innovate In An Uncertain World

    By now, we all know what it takes to become successful: as Malcolm Gladwell revealed in Outliers: The Story of Success, with a steady diet of 10,000 hours’ practice, we can become experts in our field. And yet, examples abound of novices who dive in and thrash the competition. What did Reed Hastings know about video rentals before starting Netflix? Very little, just as Jeff Bezos was inexperienced in book sales before he launched Amazon. How did they evade this iron-clad law? 
    In The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World, Frans Johansson offers an explanation. The 10,000 hour rule works well, he says, only in environments in which “the rules don’t change and you can figure out what you need to do and do it better than anyone else.” If you want to become a classical musician, a tennis star, or a chess Grand Master, starting early and getting in your hours is essential. 
    But most fields aren’t like that. Instead, he says, “many of us don’t know what we need to do,” particularly in fast-changing industries like technology – or fields that are impacted by it. “Sometimes when the rules change, the unexpected can become our friend,” allowing newcomers with insight (like Hastings or Bezos) to succeed where others have not. “That’s why we have to invite the unexpected, rather than keeping it at bay.” 
    In general, says Johansson, the business world thinks about success in the wrong way – with the mentality that “if I think about it hard enough, it’ll get done.” Strategy and analytics will only take you so far, he says. “The reality of success is that it has far more to do with the unexpected, and with serendipity and chance encounters. There are specific serendipitous moments that’ll take your career or your organization and veer it in one direction, and almost all careers or companies have that moment – the click moment. Maybe they accept that idea with [regards to] romantic love,” he says, but not in business.
    Yet making the effort to increase your exposure to serendipity is increasingly mandatory in today’s fast-moving society. “In the 1990s, I could take something happening in Sweden and bring it to the U.S., or vice versa,” says the Scandinavian-born Johansson. 
    “But today it’s much harder to do that; people in the U.S. and Sweden are Facebook friends, and people will know about [new developments]. These connections are speeding things up. You might think, ‘I’ve seen it work here, let’s try it there,’ but 40 other people have that thought.” If everyone is on the same logical path, the only way to stand out, he says, is to “harness unpredictability.” So how do you do it?
    To create better ideas, he says, the first step is creating more ideas. “People who change the world try to execute far more ideas,” he says. “Picasso ended up with 50,000 paintings, and that relates to unpredictability – if you could foresee what would be important, you wouldn’t waste time with things people didn’t think were worthwhile.”
    Another key driver of innovation is having a broad range of perspectives at the table. “Diverse teams create far more ideas, an exponential increase,” he says. “If you can make a unique connection, that can lead to 30 more ideas right away. Better ideas come from further apart.” Indeed, he says, “Diversity drives innovation, and if you’re better at diversity, you have an edge.” 
    In your own life, says Johansson, you should ask yourself: “Are the people you work with always the logical choice?” If so, you might be in an inadvertent rut. Even if you think you don’t know a diverse array of people, Johansson says “we’re always encountering people who are different from us,” whether it’s people on airplanes or extended relatives with vastly different vocations. 
    Too often, he says, we shut down those encounters prematurely. “You’re often trying to figure out what the end goal in the conversation is – and you ignore [the connection] if you’re not sure of the end goal.” But that can be a costly mistake. “If everything is planned in your day, by definition, that’s preventing something unplanned from happening.”
    Finally, he says, we have to be willing to fail. After all, most new ideas don’t work, and that’s OK, as long as you’ve limited your risk with “little bets.” Notes Johansson, “With Angry Birds, there were 51 [less successful] games before it. Many times, you do things where you can’t fail. People say, ‘I’ll do research.’ But how can you fail at that? It’s important to put yourself out there.”
    Where do you get your best ideas? Do you believe you can increase the amount of serendipity in your life – and if so, how do you do it?


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    How To Make Your B2B Social Media Friggin' Awesome (And Profitable)


    With the right fundamentals and strategy, B2B marketers can use social media to attract and convert leads, close sales and delight customers.


    Friggin Awesome B2B Social Media resized 600
    So your company has decided to step up its social media marketing. Awesome!
    You've zeroed in on your buyer persona, developed an ongoing content development program and have determined the best social media networks for engaging with your ideal customers.
    Now what?

    Well, keep in mind the overall purpose of using social media: to build reach.  You want to increase the number of the right people who get to know and engage with your company. Your social media accounts are only as valuable as your content, the number of followers and their level of engagement with you.

    To make your social media awesome AND profitable, here's your checklist:
    1.  Use Visual Content - The human brain process visual information much faster than text. This is why social media is increasingly catering to the visual. Further, social media networks are giving more preference to visual content. Facebook, for instance, gives higher Edgerank scores to visual content. (EdgeRank is an algorithm developed by Facebook to govern what is displayed—and how high—on the News Feed.)

    2.  Be Social - Unfortunately, some companies still use their social media as a one-way broadcast mechanism rather than as a means to a conversation. Social media marketing expert Jay Baer recommends "Worry more about being social, and worry less about doing social media." In social media, ask questions, respond to comments and engage with your followers. If your followers get some interaction with your company on social media they will tend to go from followers to fans.

    3.  Party - Have you ever been to a cocktail party and met that guy who won't stop talking about himself?Don't be that guy. Instead use the "cocktail party rule." Treat your social media interactions as if you're at a nice cocktail party meeting new people. Show interest in your conversation partners (your followers), speak well of others (promote some content not necessarily your own), and don't just talk about yourself.

    4.  Include Keywords - While social media sharing of your content can boost your search engine results, there's another benefit. Public social media networks like Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ get crawled by search engines, which can further help with rankings that lead visitors to your website.

    5.  Include Links - Whatever network you're using and content you're sharing, always include a link in the message that goes to the original content (even if it's not your content). When the link goes to your content, you can track the effectiveness of your social media. This is especially important for lead generation.

    6.  Post Frequently and Consistently - If you cannot commit to frequent and consistent posting, don't start. The amount of posting could be 20-30 updates per week, but it varies by industry, your buyer personas, etc. Also, if most of your followers aren't following a large number, you need to be careful not to post too much or you risk overwhelming your followers' social media stream.

    7.  Be Helpful - Before posting anything, make sure it's valuable to your buyer personas. If the information is irrelevant to them, their engagement will plummet. Before posting, ask yourself if your buyer persona would thank you for the information.

    8.  Post a Variety of Content - The more ingredients in your social media content stew, the tastier it is for your followers. The best strategy is to layer up your social media variety while being mindful that different types of content are better suited to some social media networks than others.

    • Links to New Content - Whenever you have a new blog post or content, send it out via social media with a link back to it.

    • Links to Others' Educational Content - While this may seem counterintuitive, sending your followers to other useful or educational content boosts your trustworthiness. Remember, to be effective, your social media can't be all about you.

    • Lead Generation Offers - You do need more leads, right? If you're offering valuable premium content that requires registration, that's OK. Make sure to tailor your offers to the particular network on which your sharing them.

    • Contests and Promotions - This can help make your social media more fun and help boost your number of followers. However, be careful to link the prizes to your brand and something that will be of value to your buyer persona. Otherwise, you risk gaining a lot of the wrong kind of followers who swoop in long enough to enter your contest and then leave or never engage with you afterward.
    • Breaking Industry News - Sharing news that is happening in your industry helps establish you as a thought leader who stays up to date with the latest information.  It also underscores your company as a helpful resource.

    • Funny Content - If you can be entertaining within the bounds of good taste and professionalism, your follower engagement can soar. Here's an example of some funny content shared by HubSpot during the mercifully brief Harlem Shake craze:

    • Visual Content - Visual content tends to garner more engagement, especially on those networks where it is a fit like Facebook, Pinterest and Google+. Aside from great photography, use memes, infographics and visual representations of points made in blog posts.

    • Answer Questions - This is a great way to tie in your company's customer service element with your social media. If a customer asks a question, respond. Help them. You'd answer the phone, wouldn't you? More importantly, your followers can see how well you are taking care of your customers.

    9.  Measure - Before using social media, establish goals. Examples include increased traffic, leads, customers. Perhaps all three. By measuring the effectiveness of your social media you'll then be able to do more of what's working and less of what's not working.  Looking at data is the best way to make those determinations. For instance, you can see which networks are driving the most traffic, the highest conversion rates, etc. In B2B social media marketing, those metrics are not always one in the same. LinkedIn is an example: It may not be driving the most traffic but the traffic it is generating might have the highest conversion rate (i.e. best quality traffic).

    What do you think? Please join the conversation below. And if you found this to be friggin' awesome (or even just helpful), please share it with your network.




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    Searching for what's still made in the USA

    By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN


    CNN)
     -- Josh Miller never gave much thought to where his car, bed or toothpaste came from until an aluminum plant in his hometown of Ravenswood, West Virginia, shut down about four years ago.
    The closure left 650 people without a job, including Miller's father-in-law, in a town of roughly 3,800, triggering a familiar pattern. The unemployment rate in Jackson County more than doubled, businesses shuttered and Ravenswood's quaint downtown became a ghost town.
    Miller had been vaguely aware that American manufacturing jobs were going away, but now he knew what that could mean for an entire community. He wondered how an average American like him could change the tide. Raising awareness of what's still made in the United States seemed like a good start, he decided, and embarked on a mission to live entirely off American-made goods for 30 days.
    It didn't take long for him to discover that it's impossible, especially while trying to maintain a typical middle-class existence that includes smartphones and clothing from ubiquitous big box stores. He made the challenge harder by hitting the road and traveling the country, interviewing entrepreneurs and small businesses to find out what it takes to do business in the United States.
    He documented his efforts in the film, "Made in USA: The 30 Day Journey," which is being screened through independent viewings across the country.
    Miller spent nights sleeping on floors and rinsing off from a bucket of water because he couldn't find American beds, shower or sinks. But the lessons learned are as relevant as ever, especially as the country looks for ways to boost employment and bring American manufacturing into the 21st century, he said.

    "Despite what you might hear, a lot of entrepreneurs and small businesses are making it work," he said. "Our fate as a country is tied to our economic prosperity and given what I've seen I believe there's still room for us in the manufacturing era."
    The challenge has now become a way of life whenever he can help it, he said. Checking product labels for country of origin is now a part of his shopping routine, he said. He has also immersed himself in online communities that share information about where to find American brands, products and companies.
    "Just because you can't live 100% off American-made goods doesn't mean you can't make a difference," he said. "We're in a global economy so it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. But if you change just a little bit of your lifestyle it can make a difference."
    The people he met shared his view that a little bit of effort can go a long way for small businesses trying to make it. It's not just a matter of blind patriotism, but of supporting companies that model fair business and labor practices -- even if they don't manufacture in the United States.
    "It's not always possible to live off exclusively American made goods because some products simply are not manufactured here and other items are not native to our country," said Sarah Mazzone, founder of made in usa challenge, which shares resources and information for buying American-made products.
    "For many electronics, there is no currently available made in USA option. For these purchases, I suggest minimizing your footprint as a consumer by buying used," she said. "Other items like oils or certain foods may not naturally grow in our country. For those products, I recommend buying fair-trade certified."
    Plenty of things are still made in the United States, even though the average American consumer doesn't get their hands on them on a daily basis, Gardner Carrick with The Manufacturing Institute said.
    Most American manufacturing jobs focus on heavy machinery, like aircraft, cars and supply chain parts, along with chemicals and energy products. Still, rising costs of doing business overseas and relatively affordable energy are making reshoring more attractive to businesses, Carrick said. Manufacturing has made a "strong showing" in the last four years in terms of employment and output, with signs of continued growth, Carrick said.
    In 2012, manufacturers contributed $1.87 trillion to the economy, about 11.9% of the GDP, up from $1.73 trillion in 2011, according to NAM. For every $1 spent in manufacturing, another $1.48 is added to the economy.
    As far as consumer goods are concerned, the average American should have no trouble finding food, beverages, paper products or toiletries from the United States, which Miller learned early on. A trip to the grocery store nets a toothbrush, shaving cream and food, including protein bars and gummy worms. That was a source of relief for Miller, a "bacon and eggs kind of guy" who was worried about having to just eat fruits and vegetables for breakfast during his 30-day experiment.
    The people he met on his journey underscored the fact that even products made in the United States are made of materials sourced from other countries.
    A tailor in Charleston, West Virginia, carries suiting made from British wool, German lining and Japanese buttons stitched together with silk thread from China -- all sewn together by "immigrants in Chicago," Tony the tailor tells Miller.
    Miller took his challenge to more than a dozen cities and towns on an estimated budget of $30,000, partially raised through an Indiegogo campaign, driving American rental cars and staying in Red Roof hotels whenever possible to stay true to his mission. Eventually, he reclaims his smartphone from his friend and showers more frequently. But he hopes the point has been made.
    "Advanced manufacturing will be the next revolution in this country," Miller said. "It may not look the same as it did in late 30s and 40s, but it will return America to prosperity."


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    Fact or Fiction? The Truth Behind 9 Embarrassing Global Expansion Blunders

    There are many complex decisions to be made whenplanning your company's expansion into new countries. No culture is alike, and each country has a language and customs unique to itself. Ergo, you would think that culture and language research would be top of the agenda for every company planning to penetrate new markets.
    Over the years, however, we have seen and heard some stories emerge on various websites and blogs about some brands' lack of research in the areas of culture and language. But we could never be 100% sure if they were legit or not -- some seemed too awful or hilarious to be true. So in this blog post, we thought it'd be fun to revisit those alleged blunders, and try to get to the bottom of the legends. Let's play a little game of True or False, shall we?

    1) Coors

    The Story: This rocky mountain ice cold beer company decided to cool down their Spanish market. However, the translator for Coors must have been product testing that day and their slogan "Turn It Loose," when translated, became "Suffer From Diarrhea." Not really something I would elect to do on a Friday evening after work. True or False? 
    tp

    FALSE.

    There are reports that Coors used the phrase suéltalo con Coorswhich translates, literally, to "let it go loose with Coors"; there are other reports that they used the phrase suéltate con Coors,which literally translates to "set yourself free with Coors." However, according to David Wilton, author of Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends, Coors never actually ran an ad campaign featuring any of these slogans.

    2) Dairy Association

    The Story: When expanding into Mexico, the Dairy Association's hugely successful "Got Milk" campaign was not so well received. Translated, the slogan became "Are You Lactating?" I have a feeling that slogan didn't resonate with as wide of an audience as the Dairy Association was hoping. True or False?
    milk

    FALSE.

    According to Jeff Manning, executive director of the California Milk Processor Board, this was discovered and resolved in the market research phase. Phew.

    3) Electrolux

    The Story: Getting a country's official language correct is one thing, but don’t forget to research the colloquialisms of the culture, as well. Take this Scandinavian vacuum company as an example. They thought their slogan, "Nothing Sucks Like an Electrolux," was very clever given the powerful suction of their Electrolux vacuum cleaner. However, when they launched in America, it wasn’t quite clear whether Electrolux was being promoted -- or in fact dissed -- by a competitor. True or False?
    vacuum

    TRUE.

    According to Wikipedia, in the 1960s Electrolux successfully marketed vacuums in the United Kingdom with this slogan. It was later used in the United States, but the informal U.S. meaning of the word was actually already known in the UK. So, this was a bit of a marketing gamble, in hopes the edgy slogan would help them gain some attention in their international expansion. 

    4) Pepsi

    The Story: Here's a good Halloween marketing campaign from Pepsi -- only it wasn't a Halloween campaign, and was very offensive to the Chinese market they were trying to crack. Instead of promoting their famous slogan "Come alive with Pepsi generation," they marketed themselves by accidently saying "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead." Pepsi packs a powerful punch, but probably not that powerful. True or False?
    bring_ancestors_back

    UNCONFIRMED.

    Pepsi has neither confirmed nor denied this claim. Let's move on to their competitor, then ...

    5) Coca-Cola

    The Story: One of the most famous blunders comes from the most widely known brand name in the world. When Coca-Cola was entering the Chinese market, the drink was pronounced "Ke-kou-ke-la" which, depending on dialect, meant "bite the wax tadpole" or "female horse stuffed with wax." True or False?
    cocacola

    FALSE.

    According to myth-debunking-site Snopes.com, store owners making their own signs made the blunder because they used their own dialect and characters, which in other regions translated to bite the wax tadpole, etc. Coke actually researched 40,000 Chinese characters and found a close phonetic equivalent, "ko-kou-ko-le," which can be loosely translated as "happiness in the mouth." 

    6) Clairol

    The Story: The German market was in for quite a shock when hair care company Clairol arrived on the scene with their "Mist Stick" curling iron. Why? "Mist" in German translates as "Manure." Yikes. I know they say mud is good for the skin but I'm not sure anyone could sell manure for the hair. True or False?
    horse_manure

    FALSE.

    It looks like this story has been mixed up with that of a Rolls Royce Silver Mist story. Clairol, you're off the hook!

    7) Parker Pens

    The Story: Parker Pens had a fun time explaining themselves after bringing their product to Spain ... and promptly ensuring people it wouldn't get them pregnant. Their slogan (which leaves a lot to be desired in the first place) went from "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you" to "It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant." I should certainly hope not. True or False?
    inkwell

    TRUE.

    Or at least according to the examples in the book Brand Failures.

    8) Powergen Italia

    The Story: Even something as simple as a website address can go horribly wrong. Take Powergen Italia, for example. They're an Italian company who was expanding into English-speaking countries, and decided to go with the most obvious website address -- without thinking about how it would read for their English-speaking customers. Visit www.powergenitalia.com to learn more. Just kidding. They nixed that URL pretty promptly. True or False?
    censored_title

    TRUE.

    This is true according to several sources, including Ananova, although it's important to understand that this blunder didn't come from the Italian division of energy giant Powergen, but the marketing folks at Powergen Italia, an Italian maker of battery chargers. The website now switches you over to the more aptly named for English-speakers, www.batterychargerpowergen.it.

    9) Gerber

    The Story: Everybody knows the cute little Gerber baby that features on the front of all of their baby food products -- so sweet! However, when they entered the African market they failed to research product packaging norms. Had they done that, they would have discovered that products mostly feature images of the contents inside the packaging. Therefore, a jar with a cute little baby on the front didn't do so well. True or False?
    baby_packaging

    FALSE.

    According to Snopes.com, this is an urban legend -- which was both surprising and frightening to some HubSpotters that had heard this story when they were taking university-level PR classes. Yikes.
    How some of these blunders got past the execs at these companies is unclear, but clearly it is possible to make catastrophic mistakes, even if you're a global leader like many of these brands. Allow yourself some time to properly roll out your global expansion plans, pulling in cultural and language experts along the way.

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    B2B Brand Importance
    If you’re like most B2B marketers, you’ve been asked or will be asked, Does our brand really matter? How can we prove it? And how do we build a case to support our investment? To help you understand the current POV, turn to the McKinsey study on Why B2B Branding Matters.
    Unlike in the past, where the sales experience played a large role in the purchasing decision for B2Bs, today the brand is seen as more important. Now the brand reputation commands huge influence on the purchasing decision and must be managed correctly in order to maximize value and create differentiation. In this era of brand conciseness, customers want and expect B2B brands to earn their TRUST and demandRESPONSIBILITY across the entire value chain.
    B2B customers today see through the shallow attempt of large brands merchandising “Social Responsibility” like an advertising campaign. Customers expect transparency and easy access to relevant proof points that support unique brand positions.
    Additionally, B2B companies that manage their brand reputation and experience well reap the goodwill with higher intangible value ratings. The McKinsey study shows several examples of B2B companies outperforming P&G (whose good will represents 40% of its asset value).
    So, the next time your asked, “does B2B branding matter?”, turn to the facts and rely upon recent data that shows B2B branding not only matters, but matters to your bottom line value.


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    We Appreciate Your Business. Please Stay on the Line.


    During this time I was subjected to sales pitches for sundry credit-protection services and told it "only takes a few minutes to enroll." Clearly, this institution believes it's less important to meet your service needs than to get you to spend more. But what could I do? I couldn't hang up. I had to resolve the problem. So that's how I spent the next 31 minutes.

    I experienced a similar asymmetry when a credit-card company informed me that the terms and conditions for claiming hotel rewards had changed. For example, the number of miles needed for a free night in a top-category hotel room had gone from 125,000 to 160,000. "If you're not satisfied with these changes you can cancel your account by calling us," the statement said — hardly an attempt at building customer satisfaction or loyalty. Just as before, I was stuck; I didn't want to cancel the agreement and forfeit my accumulated miles.

    Customers — maybe even your customers — experience this kind of thing every day. They feel small compared to your bigness. They feel weak in comparison with your power. But it doesn't have to be that way.

    Companies in a few industries have adopted policies of transparency and accountability that reduce some of the asymmetry. Airlines are a good example. JetBlue offers rebates under clearly statedcircumstances: If your flight is delayed an hour and a half to an hour and 59 minutes, you get a $25 credit; if you're delayed six hours or more, you get a round-trip ticket.

    But airlines did this in response to new government regulations establishing fines for companies that leave customers sitting for hours in planes on the ground. Those regulations themselves were the result of a push by customer-advocacy groups such as FlyersRights. If the airlines had assumed that consumers were weak and insignificant, they were wrong. Consumers got so mad that they figured out how to be powerful.

    Your company shouldn't wait for customers to do that. The time to revisit your customer guarantees is now.

    Here are a few proactive steps a company can take to reduce the asymmetry that customers despise:

    • Make it an ironclad policy to honor original contractual agreements, come what may. If you're a credit-card company or a hotel and you've told customers they need a certain number of miles or points or whatever to get a free room, keep the requirement at that level. If this becomes a burden for the company, make it harder for customers to earn future points. That way you're not punishing people you made a commitment to in the past.

    • Don't punish customers by manipulating the rules. Companies that play bait-and-switch not only create dissatisfied customers but generate resentment and end up with lower loyalty rates. For example, phone companies that promised unlimited data plans and then, at contract renewal, changed the mechanism to retain these functions are seen by customers as unreliable partners.

    • Explain why an action is being taken, and be trustworthy. If a call center is busy, don't tell customers the hold time is five minutes and then, after four minutes (as higher-priority customers enter the queue), revise that to 10 minutes. If the wait is going to be long, have the system take customers' numbers and call them back — and if you say you're going to call back, do call back.

    • Be there for customers when they need you. If you've explicitly or implicitly offered a certain level of service, just provide it. Don't try to nibble away at its corners or mindlessly try to turn each service encounter into a sale. Customers don't enjoy hearing recorded pitches when they're holding for your service reps.

    • Don't conceal important information. Don't take the phone number off your web site or hide critical service information deep in a site. FAQs are great, but customers still need to talk to your people. Open the person-to-person channel, and monitor it: Measure the call center's queue length, answering speed, and abandoned-call proportion, as well as customers' rate of zeroing out (hitting "0" repetitively to get an operator).

    • Empower your employees at all levels to change processes in customers' favor. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh instills this approach into the company culture, with the desired aim of "wowing" customers.
    If you don't take these steps, you're leaving yourself open to customer flight. Customers' memories of the times when they were poorly served tend to be a lot more vivid and longer-lasting than their recall of seamless service experiences. You also leave yourself vulnerable to possible retaliation through social media. Reacting to a social-media disaster is a much more expensive proposition than providing excellent customer service and first-time problem resolution.

    In big companies, it's easy for managers to forget that the acquisition of each customer represents a real victory for product development, marketing, and sales. Don't squander that effort by letting customers slip away due to service failures. By fighting the slide to a power-asymmetry culture, you'll bind your customers closer to your company, a very desirable outcome in an environment of decreasing consumer loyalty.


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    Reinvigorate a Disengaged Sales Force

    A stunning 70% of U.S. workers say they are "not engaged" or "actively disengaged" with their work,according to Gallup's ongoing study of the American workplace from 2010 through 2012. Sales reps — the people who represent your firm with customers — are not an exception. What must you do, at a minimum, to regain the trust and recharge the talent of sales people? Two steps are foundational.

    1. Understand and communicate, in the C-Suite as well as with the reps, the crucial role played by the sales force in strategy implementation. Some might say that sales forces have less relevance because customers are buying more online. In 2012, according to U.S. Department of Commerce data, online spending reached almost $200 billion. That may sound like a lot, but it's less than 5% of total retail spending (even in a recession) and less than half of what just one retailer, Wal-Mart, sells annually.

     In fact, if you peek behind the server farms of online firms themselves, you will find traditional face-to-face sales organizations as the engine of revenue acquisition and firm value. At Groupon in 2012, over 45% of employees were in Sales; at Google, it's over 50%; and at Facebook the sales force's ability to translate "likes" into advertisers will make or break that company's valuation and fortunes going forward.

    The issue facing most sales forces is not disintermediation. What is true is that online options are realigning sales tasks. Consider the century-old practice of selling cars at dealers. Relatively few cars are actually bought online. But an estimated 80% of Americans first research the purchase via Edmunds.com and other online sources. They visit dealers less frequently and sales reps must be better at closing the sale with more-informed customers. Selling skills are now even more important. The options available to customers put greater pressure on the rep's value-add during the sales experience, and this engagement has implications for the next foundational element.

    2. Redesign processes with sales tasks, not the technology, in mind. Many C-suite leaders, years removed from actual customer contact in the field, welcome "Big Data" but don't understand the realities facing their salespeople during an information revolution. It's estimated that each U.S. firm with more than 1,000 employees already has more data in its CRM system than in the entire U.S. Library of Congress. The role of data is not to make a manager sound "analytical." In business, it's more important to be contextually right and make decisions that people can execute effectively than it is to be school-smart or statistically significant.

    New technologies can improve lead generation and qualification (through Search Engine Optimization techniques and tailored online communities), determination of specifications (the use of third-party websites, webinars, and online demo's), and price negotiations and closing (online tracking systems and pricing algorithms). But despite good intentions, many Big Data transformations are failing because firms haphazardly download data onto sales reps. 

    Communication is mainly one way and there is too little of it. Smarter firms complement training with use of resources like Darwinator, a web-based tool that enables individuals to vote on ideas in a fast and effective manner. Others help reps cope with the growing analytical requirements of sales tasks through tools like visualizing.org, which helps to convert big amounts of spreadsheet or correlational data into value propositions that can be communicated to customers. 

    Equally important, firms should use these capabilities to off-load administrative tasks from salespeople to increase selling time. And that's a managerial and organizational issue, not simply a data or sales issue. According to Gartner Research, chief marketing officers will soon spend more on IT than CIOs, increasing the need for coordination between marketing and sales throughout the buying cycle at many firms. At a minimum, these groups need a shared understanding of their firm's strategy, value proposition, key sales tasks, and relevant selling behaviors.

    Ultimately, companies don't execute strategy; people do. And talented sales people remain the key lever for strategy implementation in most firms. But companies must be worthy of real talent and, to benefit from that talent, provide the right environment for those people to flourish.


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    How Stanford’s president sees the challenges ahead


    Is higher education working?

    A simple yes or no was not on the table for Stanford University President John Hennessy. “Generally yes,” he answered, but not everywhere.

    Stanford has been able to avoid many of the crises squeezing educational opportunities at other colleges and universities. That’s no guarantee that Stanford will not face new challenges in the future, he said.

    “We’ve been the beneficiaries of a much more dynamic, more entrepreneurial culture, but we’re going to have to change now if we are going to survive and continue to deliver education to young people.”
    The question kicked off the first keynote conversation in the 8th Reunion & Conference of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships, July 11-14 at Stanford.

     The conference welcomed back decades of alumni who had spent a year away from their journalism careers learning, and now innovating, at Stanford.  The conference drew nearly 200 alumni from more than 20 countries, as well as their spouses, partners and children.

    In conversation with Knight Fellowships Director Jim Bettinger, Hennessy said higher education has diversified and spanned many spheres since its beginnings.

    In Europe, where it originated, higher education is in much worse shape than it is in the United States, for example. “They still act like it was 800 years ago in some ways,” Hennessy said. In this country, new issues have arisen that put the effectiveness of higher education in question. Cost is the foremost.
    “Costs are driven by salaries of highly educated people, the professors. Their salaries tend to go up faster than average family income,” Hennessy said. State governments once covered much of that differential. California no longer does.

    The solution likely lies in increased productivity within the institution, he said. But the easiest way of doing that – doubling class sizes – could compromise the value of instruction. Still, he remains hopeful.
    A four-year degree continues to be the gold standard for educated people, he said. Maintaining what is special about those college degrees is important as more people strive to attain them.  That’s become a particular challenge in light of the massive open online courses (MOOCs) phenomenon, a movement in which Stanford has been at the forefront.

    Since the fall of 2011, when then-Stanford professor and computer scientist Sebastian Thrun allowed people all over the world to take his course free online, Stanford and many other universities have been trying to find a way to make this educational model work in the grander scheme of maintaining a sense of the “specialness” of a university degree. MOOCs come with certificates, not university credits. There are no requirements for taking them. And most are free.

    Hennessy doesn’t see MOOCs as the ultimate solution to educating the masses. The completion rate for these courses has been only about 10 percent, he noted. They are, however, “a very viable and unique opportunity” for self-motivated learners and people who want to get ahead on their own – as well as for the parts of the world where higher education is not easily accessible.

    What are the university’s responsibilities beyond Stanford? Bettinger asked. Hennessy said Stanford should do more.

    “The university had reached a point where it had done what it needed to do to deliver a very high quality of undergraduate and graduate education. It established itself as a strong player in the research environment, and it should try to face outward a little more.”

    We face serious problems that have consequences for everyone, he said. He worries about the global sustainability of water and other resources, health care costs, corruption, failed states and the diminishing quality of life in many African countries.

    Stanford’s response, he said, is to bring together students and faculty from various disciplines that share a common interest in tackling global environmental issues and enabling a sustainable future.

    “We’ve embarked on a plan to try to organize the university in a novel way to try and address these problems without eliminating the disciplines that are the standard of excellence within the university,” he said. “It’s still early on; universities take a long time to develop. But I’d say… we’re pretty happy with the results so far.”

    Barbara Skinner, an associate professor of history at Indiana State, asked Hennessy if his focus wasn’t overlooking the value of humanities programs.

    “Your words are all dealing with applied sciences and engineering, business, environment. All of these things—very important stuff,” Skinner said. “What is Stanford doing to still promote the basic teaching of creative thinking, writing and to give that value?”

    While the core requirements of every undergraduate degree at Stanford include a smorgasbord of courses in subjects like English, foreign languages and history, Hennessy acknowledged there has been a crisis in the humanities, both at Stanford and at universities across the country.

    He cited a drastic decline in the number of students who major in the humanities. He attributed it to a more career-oriented mentality, exacerbated by parents who urge their children to pursue degrees in areas perceived to be more professionally and financially promising.

    Unfortunately, that attitude represents an overarching misunderstanding of the possibilities for humanities graduates, Hennessy said.

    “The acceptance rate in the medical school, for example, for students from undergraduate humanities majors is the same as it is for biology majors, and the same thing applies in the business school,” he said. “I think we’re going to have to do a better job of articulating that case, particularly as a core part of undergraduate education.”

    Bettinger asked Hennessy how he effects change. His answer, in the entrepreneurial spirit he has embraced as a computer scientist, businessman and university president, was “with incentives.”
    “It’s like herding cats, and the only way you can get cats to do anything is move the cat food, and the cat food should be very tasty cat food,” he said.

    The incentive could be a venture fund, he said, which is what he used to bring about a multidisciplinary culture in research and education. “The fund enabled the leadership at the various institutes to fund new faculty collaborations. It has worked well for getting that kind of activity going.”

    Such cross-departmental collaboration has also had an impact on the evolution of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships program. As journalism veered into crisis, the program shifted from a sabbatical year to one in which Knight Fellows now pursue solutions to particular journalism challenges. In doing so, they have interacted and partnered with a wide range of campus entities.

    The results have been new tools for journalism, new perspectives on storytelling, challenges to how news is distributed, new ideas for revenue models and a new cadre of journalists who are also innovators and entrepreneurs and leading the next steps in journalism.

    As Julie McCarthy, a 2003 Knight Fellow and NPR correspondent said, these collaborations and innovations are what make Stanford Stanford. Bringing some of the most capable minds from around the world to affect positive change—whether in the field of journalism or higher education as a whole—has become the culture of the university.

    So while there is no clear yes-or-no to the question, “Is higher education working?” one answer may be that Stanford is working on behalf of higher education.

    View at the original source

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    Five Imperatives for Improving Health Care


    Leaders from Harvard's medical and business schools are exploring ways to some 125 health care experts including executives, policy makers, and academics. In association with the conference, the Forum launched an HBS and HMS Survey of Executive Sentiment in Health Care.
    Innovation in health care treatment seems to far outpace innovation in health care business management. Just ask President Obama—two weeks ago he delayed enactment of a key provision of the new health care law for fear its requirements would swamp small-business owners.
    So results of a recent conference and survey from Harvard's business and medical schools may prove particularly timely. Delivered by the Forum on Healthcare Innovation, which was formed last year with encouragement from the respective deans of the two institutions, the report makes five recommendations for how to improve quality, reduce costs, and, consequently, increase value in the American health care industry.
    To kick off its work, the Forum in November 2012 hosted its inaugural conference, entitled "Healing Ourselves: Addressing Healthcare Innovation Challenge," which brought together some 125 health care experts including executives, policy makers, and academics. In association with the conference, the Forum launched an HBS and HMS Survey of Executive Sentiment in Health Care.
    “THERE’S A LOT OF ACTIVITY THAT GOES ON IN HEALTH CARE THAT DOESN'T NECESSARILY CONTRIBUTE TO OVERALL VALUE”

    "We were not asking those executives to provide objective information about their own organizations or specific numbers; rather, we simply wanted to capture where the industry feels most optimistic and pessimistic about delivering value," explains Robert S. Huckman, Albert J. Weatherhead III Professor of Business Administration at HBS and a member of the Forum's faculty steering committee.
    Other committee members include William W. Chin, Executive Dean for Research at HMS; Richard G. Hamermesh, MBA Class of 1961 Professor of Management Practice at HBS; Barbara J. McNeil, Ridley Watts Professor of Health Care Policy at HMS; and Joseph P. Newhouse, John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy and Management at Harvard University.
    The key findings from the conference and survey are detailed in the Forum's recent report, 5 Imperatives: Addressing Healthcare's Innovation Challenge, and discussed below:
    Making value the central objective: Regarding the current quality of US health care, survey respondents expressed varied sentiment: 14 percent were "strongly positive," 20 percent "strongly negative," and the rest somewhere in between. But adding cost to the mix of issues changed their sentiments considerably.
    Asked about the prospects for cost and quality of health care in the US, 22 percent felt strongly negative and only 1 percent felt strongly positive. "It was pretty stark," Huckman says. "The concern is that the costs have become so great that anything we do to improve quality becomes almost irrelevant if we can't finance the system to deliver it."
    Hence the imperative to focus on value, the quality of outcome achieved per unit of cost spent by the system.
    Researchers want to improve the business management of health care"There's a lot of activity that goes on in health care that doesn't necessarily contribute to overall value," Huckman says. "Think about a company that runs very profitable hospitals. Are they profitable because they've figured out how to offer high quality care at low cost? Or are they profitable because they've figured out that specific types of procedures tend to be reimbursed very well by insurance companies, and they've set themselves up to do a lot of those particular procedures?
    "Those are two different scenarios, and we'd like to see more of the former than the latter."
    Promoting novel approaches to process improvement: Although health care innovation efforts traditionally have focused on new products such as drugs and devices, survey respondents ranked process improvements in care delivery as the most promising opportunity for improving the cost and quality of health care.
    "A lot of hospitals have been running the same way for the last 30 years. We want providers to look at their processes for activities, such as running an operating room, discharging patients, or conducting physician rounds, and figure out cost-effective ways to improve upon them," Huckman says.
    Making consumerism really work: In contrast to process improvement, "consumer incentives to encourage healthy behavior" ranked last among 11 possible innovations in terms of its ability to increase value in health care, according to survey respondents. The reason: Incentives aren't effective unless paired with good information. And the oft-fragmented nature of the American health care system makes it hard to turn patients into active consumers.
    “A LOT OF HOSPITALS HAVE BEEN RUNNING THE SAME WAY FOR THE LAST 30 YEARS”
    At the conference, attendees agreed that a few things need to happen to help patients to make informed choices. All agreed that it's critical to encourage consumers to pursue healthier lifestyles. But just as importantly, patients also need better access to data on both the cost and potential outcome of specific medical procedures. Moreover, they need a mechanism for understanding that data.
    "Let's face it," Huckman says. "We've long had our clinical decisions in the hands of physicians who have had, in most cases, at least seven years of post-baccalaureate medical training. These are often technical decisions that can be very nuanced. So how do we help consumers have a role in the decision-making when the information is so complex? The key is not just to get the information to the consumers but to help them process it."
    Decentralizing approaches to problem solving: Conference attendees and survey respondents generally applauded the fact that health care delivery is becoming more decentralized—with care delivery spreading beyond traditional facilities and into new models such as the MinuteClinic, a for-profit provider that operates some 640 clinics inside CVS pharmacies.
    "So much of health care has grown up around centralized organizations," Huckman says. "Now what we're seeing in all sectors of health care is some movement away from these centers and toward the periphery. So instead of people going to the downtown medical center they might go to a retail clinic. They might increasingly have their care monitored from home. In its most extreme form, patients may actually become their own providers with respect to many issues."
    Integrating new approaches into established organizations: Still, survey respondents stressed the importance of established firms and hospitals in fostering innovation—especially in the areas of disease management, pharmaceuticals, electronic medical records, and basic research.
    "We can't just wait for decentralized approaches to come and save us," Huckman says. "At some point we need to go to the large medical centers, group practices, and pharmaceutical firms to figure out how to integrate these new ideas into existing organizations."

    EFFORTS CONTINUE

    Improving health care delivery is also the main agenda of the HBS Healthcare Initiative, a multidisciplinary research effort. It is one of several big societal issues specifically studied at the School, where researchers are exploring ways that business management expertise can be harnessed to improve everything from delivering affordable essential services to the poor to making the US more competitive in world markets.
    In the future, the Forum on Healthcare Innovation will turn to the five imperatives as a guide for evaluating new ideas and reevaluating existing processes. In the meantime, the group rests assured that the cure for health care does not hinge on a single magic bullet.
    "At the end of the day, the big idea is that there's no big idea," Huckman says. "It's about a lot of little things—many of which we already know—that we need to execute consistently." 

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    What Are the Limits of Transparency?


    Modern business theorists hail the open organization, but secrets between employers and employees are sometimes a good thing. What's the proper balance between transparency and opaqueness? asks Professor Jim Heskett.

    Transparency has become a popular concept in management circles in recent years, no matter how little enthusiasm you may have for the word itself. Now the topic has been thrust into our everyday lives with disclosures, or leaks, of alleged US secret intelligence information by Edward Snowdon. Increasingly, we are asking ourselves "How much transparency is the right amount?"
    Transparency is given credit for fostering trust among members of an organization, building loyalty among employees, and generally creating better places to work. For many years we observed need-to-know policies (that may have had their origins in the military) among managers of leading organizations. This slowly evolved in some organizations into policies that gave employees much more information about the activities of the enterprise and more voice in determining what they felt they needed to know.
    Vineet Nayar, vice chairman and joint managing director of HCL Technologies, an India-based information technology services company, has been one of the most outspoken advocates of increased transparency. He says all HCL's financial information is on the company's internal Web. "We are completely open," he had been quoted as saying. "We put all the dirty linen on the table, and we answer everyone's questions. We inverted the pyramid of the organization and made reverse accountability a reality."
    That's not all. Nayar makes his own 360-degree feedback open to 50,000 employees, and 3,800 managers participate in an open 360-degree process. "We started having people make their presentations and record them for our internal Web site. We open that for review to a 360-degree workshop.… What happened? … You cannot lie … You are going to put your best work into it …."
    This policy may not be appropriate for all organizations. It has to be aligned with a number of other policies and practices. For one thing, it may repel capable managers who would prefer not to work in a high-transparency environment. Transparency makes some people uncomfortable, although this appears to be more a generational issue. Surveys have shown that younger people have little or no interest in the Snowden affair. They assume that much of what they do will become public knowledge regardless of any efforts to keep it secret.
    The late Harlan Cleveland predicted much of this more than 30 years ago when he noted that information is different than material things in that it can be shared, can't be hoarded, and leaks prolifically and naturally. As he put it then: "The information resource … is different in kind from other resources. So it has to be a mistake to carry over uncritically to the management of information those concepts that have proven so useful during the centuries when things were the dominant resources and prime objects of commerce, politics, and prestige."
    So as leaders and managers, how much do we share?
     How do we avoid sharing competitively sensitive (comparable to the government's "top secret") information too widely?
     If we operate on a need-to-know policy, who decides what employees need to know? 
    What are the limits of transparency? What do you think?

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    Three Myths About Your Strengths


    by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman  


    One of the most dramatic changes in leadership development in the last decade has been the shift in focus from correcting weaknesses to identifying and expanding on strengths. As this movement continues to catch hold, three myths have emerged that deserve to be dispelled.

    Myth #1: Focusing on strengths is the latest fad from impractical social scientists. While it's true that prominent practitioners of leadership development have only recently adopted a focus on strengths as an accepted practice, the idea is far from new. As far back as 1967, in his classic book, The Effective Executive, management guru Peter Drucker wrote:
    "The effective executive makes strengths productive. To achieve results one has to use all the available strengths — the strengths of associates, the strength of the superior, and one's own strengths. These strengths are the true opportunities. To make strength productive is the unique purpose of the organization. It cannot overcome the weaknesses with which each of us is endowed, but it can make them irrelevant."
    One of us recalls hearing Drucker talk eloquently about this a good 50 years ago, and Drucker certainly would never have been described as a touchy-feely social scientist. As the father of much of modern management theory and practice, he was simply describing the best management practices versus those he thought made no sense.
    Myth #2: A strength taken too far become a weakness. There is no question that there are beneficial things a person can do that if taken to excess can become serious problems. As many have pointed out, people can die from massive doses of water, which in reasonable amounts is utterly essential. But leadership strengths don't work the same way. When people think of overdoing a strength, what they're really thinking about is overdoing some associated behavior. The distinction becomes easier to see if you ask yourself a question like, "Can an executive be excessively honest?" Those who think so might fear too much honesty would lead someone to be overly blunt or boorish. That may be so, but it's not inevitable, and it's boorishness and bluntness that would then be the problem, not honesty in itself.
    Or ask yourself, "Can you conceive of an executive who is too strategic in her thinking?" Perhaps, you might assume that being extremely strategic could lead an executive to fail to focus on tactical, day-to-day issues. And again, that could happen, but it's wrong to assert that strategic thinking causes people to stop thinking tactically. These are different behaviors, and it is just as possible that a strong strategic focus on the future can help executives recognize and quickly change tactics day-to-day because they can understand the long-term impact of today's problems.
    Using 360-degree feedback, our firm typically measures the strength of 16 competencies that most consistently describe highly effective executives. These are the traits — such as driving for results, being inspiring, thinking strategically, and being honest — that correlate most highly with positive organizational outcomes, such as higher productivity, greater customer satisfaction, better employee engagement, higher retention and better profitability. If, in fact, doing any of them too well turned a strength into a weakness, then we should be seeing worse results for leaders who score in the 90th percentile and above on a trait than for those scoring well, but not overly well — say at the 65th percentile. But that is not what happens. The higher an individual scores on competencies, the better their business results.
    Myth #3: Strengths and weaknesses go together. In a recent publication by two prestigious consulting firms, senior HR executives discussed the advantages of focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses. One of the participants said, "The key is to inhibit the de-railers....When you find a person with towering strengths on one or two out of three dimensions, often there's a fatal weakness on another."
    Is that so? Are strengths linked inevitably with weaknesses, like the proverbial two sides of the same coin? To investigate this question, we selected a group of 16,428 leaders for whom we had 360° feedback information. Each received an average of 10 assessments from their direct reports, their peers, and their boss regarding their leadership skills.
    If you arbitrarily describe a skill at the 90th percentile as a "strength" and a competency below the 10th percentile as a "fatal flaw" (or de-railer), you can see what we found in the chart:

    Do Strengths Come With Flaws?

    Essentially, the results showed, 93% of people with fatal flaws have no strengths. And the more strengths they had, the lower the likelihood was that they would have a fatal flaw. Bottom line? Our data show that it is in fact rare for strengths and weaknesses to cohabitate in the same person.
    Are there exceptions? Yes. The late Steve Jobs was a classic example of someone who possessed towering strengths and fatal flaws. However, our data shows that if you look at a large body of leaders, that happens only about 2% of the time.
    We believe strengths-based development is definitely here to stay. Its acceptance will be enhanced as some of these lingering myths become dispelled.


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    Leadership Lessons from the Chilean Mine Rescue


    by Faaiza Rashid, Amy C. Edmondson, and Herman B. Leonard


    Early in the afternoon of August 5, 2010, more than 700,000 metric tons of rock suddenly caved in, blocking the central passage to the tunnels in the San José copper and gold mine in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Shaken miners close to the entrance soon made their way out, but 33 men working deep underground were trapped beneath some of the hardest rock on the planet.

    Accidents in underground mines are common, but this one was unprecedented on several dimensions: the depth at which the miners were entombed, the unstable rock formation, and the mine’s antiquity and notorious safety record, to name but a few. Two days later, after a second rockfall blocked ventilation shafts, experts estimated the probability of locating and rescuing the missing workers alive at less than 1%.
    Yet on October 13, after spending a record 69 days underground at a depth of 2,300 feet, Los 33, as the miners had come to call themselves, emerged—fragile but alive. Once the last man had been winched to the surface, the rescue team held up a sign that read Misión Cumplida, Chile (Mission Accomplished, Chile), a sight seen by more than a billion TV viewers.
    The San José rescue operation was an extraordinary effort, entailing leadership under enormous time pressure and involving teamwork by hundreds of people from different organizations, areas of expertise, and countries. People everywhere, including the three of us, watched it unfold with apprehension, amazement, and admiration. It wasn’t long before we concluded that the story had much to teach executives about leading in difficult settings.
    One of us (Rashid) flew to Santiago soon after the miners’ rescue and conducted in-depth interviews with several key players. Our research became the basis of two case studies, which we’ve taught around the world. Through our work, we’ve gained fresh insights into the role that leaders should play in time-sensitive, highly risky, uncertain make-or-break situations.
    While different in detail, the challenges that the San José rescue team’s leadership tackled resemble those that senior executives often face in today’s turbulent business environment. At every turn, organizations must deal with threats to their prosperity and survival. Risks are poorly understood, and countermeasures are unclear. Even opportunities are difficult to decipher. The past provides little guidance about what will work in the future, and executives must learn rapidly and execute reliably under extreme time constraints. These factors can make situations chaotic, which is discouraging and, often, frightening.
    In such emotionally charged circumstances, most leaders feel torn. They worry: Should they be directive, taking charge and closely monitoring people? Or should they be empowering, inviting innovation and letting many experiments bloom? Our research suggests that the answer should be yes—to both. The choice presents a false dichotomy.
    In complicated and rapidly evolving settings, CEOs have to command action so that they can execute efficiently and capitalize on even fleeting opportunities. But it’s also essential for them and their teams to learn quickly, to keep up with developing events and stay ahead of the competition. That will happen only if leaders foster creativity and openness, encourage exploration and invention, and facilitate cooperation across disciplines and perspectives.
    To meet these conflicting demands, leaders must alternate between directing action and enabling innovation. At times, they must be decisive, give instructions, and periodically close down discussions so that the team can get things done. At other times, they must create space for new ideas, encourage dissent, ask questions, and promote experimentation. Leaders that lean too much toward either relentless commands or unchecked ideation do so at their peril.
    The concept of duality in leadership has been discussed before in HBR. Stanford’s James G. March pointed out the need for organizations to explore and exploit; Harvard Business School’s Michael Tushman and Stanford’s Charles O’Reilly introduced the idea of ambidextrous organizations. This article extends that thinking, unveiling a framework that leaders facing complex, high-pressure situations can use to integrate fast innovation and urgent execution.

    As we will see, the response to the San José disaster unfolded in two phases: a 17-day search to locate and contact the miners, and a 52-day rescue, during which they were sustained and then pulled up to safety. Each phase focused on a different problem:

     The first entailed finding a needle in a haystack; the second, quickly designing and implementing a novel rescue system. However, to tackle both problems, the mission’s leaders used the same seemingly contradictory approach: Control and empower. The leaders focused on driving work forward and looking for new ideas in unlikely places; they acted quickly and yet took time to reflect.




    To effectively implement this dual approach, we find, leaders must perform three key tasks:Envision, enroll, and engage. These tasks must be done iteratively; imagine them as the nodes of a triangle, not steps in a process. At any time, the main emphasis should be on only one of them, and as the situation evolves, each will become the center of attention. Moreover, each task has directive and empowering components. To orchestrate a balance between them, leaders must constantly analyze their changing situation and environment.

    Envision: Direct a Realistic Assessment and Enable Hope

    To thrive in chaotic environments, teams need realism and hope. Leaders must promote both, by understanding what is and by envisioning what could be—and by inviting others to participate in moving from the existing to the desirable.

    Coming to grips with reality starts with conducting a clear-eyed assessment of the current situation and trying to anticipate any future consequences. But the gap between the present circumstance and the desired outcome can be psychologically overwhelming, immobilizing people. Therefore it’s critical for leaders to inspire hope in followers. 

    The management expert Jim Collins refers to the dual need for hope and pragmatism as the Stockdale Paradox, after the coping mechanism that U.S. Navy pilot James Stockdale used to lead his fellow captives in a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp.

    During the San José rescue, Chile’s political leaders raised people’s hopes and, at the same time, injected realism. Within hours of the accident, the country’s then recently elected president, Sebastián Piñera, dispatched his businessman-turned-mining-minister, Laurence Golborne, to assess it firsthand. 

    The moment the president learned of the impending tragedy, the immense technical difficulties confronting the rescuers, and the mining company’s lack of capabilities and personnel, he realized that the government would have to take immediate charge of the rescue.

    Context may have played a part in the decision; his predecessor had been criticized for responding too slowly to an earthquake in February 2010, and there was a growing aspiration in Chile to be seen as capable of doing great things. Against key political advisers’ recommendations and at significant political risk, Piñera flew to the mine site to meet a small group of family members and declare his unequivocal commitment to a rescue. 

    His directive was clear: Bring home the miners, dead or alive, sparing no expense. Piñera thus articulated the gap between reality and hope, and made a pledge to close it.
    He then turned to Chile’s largest mining company, the state-owned National Copper Corporation of Chile (Codelco), for help. Its senior executives recommended André Sougarret, known for his composure under pressure, to lead the rescue. A mining engineer with over 20 years of experience, Sougarret managed El Teniente, reputed to be the world’s largest underground mine. 
    To help him at the San José site, he called on a handpicked team of 32 Codelco managers, including two mine superintendents, a communications expert, and a psychologist in human resources management (who took charge of the relational aspects of the operation). Four days after the accident, the president flew back to San José to introduce Sougarret to the miners’ families.
    At the accident site, Sougarret found chaos. Hundreds of people—the missing men’s relatives, other miners, health personnel, the press, and self-dispatched first responders from the industry—were flooding in, seeking answers, all adding to the turmoil. 

    He and his team cut through the confusion to establish situational awareness (a high-level understanding of critical elements of a complex environment, employed by air traffic controllers, military leaders, and emergency personnel), assuming little and asking myriad questions.
    Sougarret held conversations with mine workers and with geologists and drilling experts, such as BHP Escondida’s Walter Véliz, Nicolás Cruz, and Marcos Bermúdez, and Codelco’s José Toro, who had arrived at the accident site earlier. Through them he learned that if the miners had survived the collapse and followed protocol, they would have gathered at a small “refuge” located approximately 2,300 feet underground.
    The roughly 530-square-foot room held only enough provisions to feed 10 miners normally for two days and sufficient water for a month. But if the miners weren’t hurt and maintained discipline and morale, they would be able to survive for a fairly long time. The danger was that they would still perish before rescuers could get to them.
    Like the president, Sougarret offered the missing miners’ families and the people of Chile a rational basis for hope without disguising the truth about the odds against them. In his first interactions with the media, he promised a determined effort, not a successful outcome. He explained his experience and expertise, his goals, and his absolute commitment to the rescue. However, Sougarret didn’t shy away from describing the uncertainty and difficulties the rescuers faced.
    Maintaining situational awareness became a never-ending task, as reality kept changing. At first Sougarret thought his team could reach the trapped miners by using the existing ventilation shafts and emergency tunnels to get to the lower maze of tunnels. The growing instability inside the mine and the secondary rockfalls that blocked the shafts quickly made this plan unworkable. The gap between the current state and the desired end had widened, and it was necessary to find a new way to bridge it.
    It became clear to Sougarret that the team could rescue the miners only by drilling a borehole that intersected the refuge or the tunnels near it. However, creating a hole large enough to admit a rescue capsule might take months. The miners would never survive that long if they didn’t receive more food and water. That realization led to a conceptual breakthrough: 
    The challenge had to be broken into two parts. The first would involve quickly drilling a small (15 centimeters in diameter) shaft to locate the miners and provide them with critical supplies. The second would require drilling a shaft wide enough to extract the miners from an underground location almost two Empire State Buildings deep.
    To be sure, the two-pronged effort seemed only remotely feasible. Drilling technologies’ lack of precision, combined with the absence of accurate maps for the 121-year-old mine, meant that there was only a slim chance of drilling all the way to the refuge in time. Still, the idea reflected an important evolution in the leaders’ understanding of the situation. 
    It also allowed the rescue operation to divide its forces, freeing some to focus on the more difficult second phase even while the first was under way. This parallel processing, which became a hallmark of the operation, is actually a requirement for success in chaotic environments.
    With a better understanding of the available options, Sougarret immediately got his team to focus on the search operation. The group’s constant brainstorming produced several plausible solutions that the team could try. For example, the search operation encompassed drilling efforts at several sites that allowed more speed and accuracy and boosted the likelihood of success. 
    Later, the rescue operation would similarly pursue multiple solutions at once, employing three different drilling systems—Plans A, B, and C—in parallel. Plan A was more reliable but far too slow for comfort.
     Plan B had the potential for the quickest adjustments, but its technology was untested. Plan C offered greater speed—but less precision than seemed necessary. Together, these alternative approaches formed a rational and pragmatic basis for the belief that a rescue was possible.
    Meanwhile, deep underground, the trapped miners confronted the physical and psychological challenges of survival. Under the calming influence of the shift supervisor, Luis Urzúa, they overcame three days of confusion and conflict to restore order and hope. 
    Threatened by limited food and deteriorating health, the miners adopted a democratic leadership structure. They allocated daily tasks and resources, established living and waste disposal areas, and used the lighting system to simulate day and night. As they passed the time by sharing stories about their lives, the bonds among them deepened and they began calling themselves Los 33. In their grim situation, hope focused on the possibility of rescue and on maintaining their dignity even if rescue eventually proved impossible.
    Enroll: Direct Boundary Patrolling and Enable Boundary Spanning
    By definition, leaders don’t exist without followers. At the San José mine, followers were in abundance. Chile’s tightly knit mining community sent many experts and tons of equipment to the accident site. However, expertise without leadership is never enough—as countless failures in organizations ranging from NASA to Lehman Brothers have taught us.
    During times of uncertainty, leaders must enlist a diverse group of highly skilled people but ask them to leave behind preconceived notions and prepackaged solutions. Those specialists need to understand that no matter how experienced they might be, they have never before faced the challenge at hand. 
    The group needs to explore, experiment, and invent together, and to integrate deep knowledge and ideas—not just apply them. People have to work in fluid, shifting arrangements, rotating in and out of teams as the demands of the situation evolve.
    To enroll followers, leaders must repeatedly present their vision of the end state. Even when the mission appears obvious, they must remind people what they’re trying to accomplish and what’s at stake; doing so infuses fresh meaning into work and recharges effort and ingenuity. For instance, to sustain enrollment despite the inhospitable conditions in the Atacama Desert and the lengthening odds, Sougarret would constantly highlight the core mission as saving lives.
    Enrolling has a second side. It is as important to exclude unhelpful people and approaches as it is to invite in helpful ones. Leaders in chaotic environments must be willing to draw boundaries and actively turn away people whose efforts appear no longer relevant. After he took stock of the situation at San José, Sougarret established a “restricted access” perimeter beyond which he allowed only people with technical expertise and implementable proposals.
    Sougarret and his deputies matched this inward focus with an equal outward focus. With the support of President Piñera, they reached out to their networks for new ideas and technologies, calling on organizations such as the Chilean Navy and United Parcel Service and on American drilling experts previously stationed in Afghanistan. 
    Other organizations, such as NASA and Maptek, an Australian 3-D mapping software company, volunteered to help. The ideas that poured in were vetted by an off-site team in Santiago, some 500 miles away, which ranked countless proposals in terms of feasibility and interviewed people whose ideas seemed worthy of consideration
    Back at the mine site, Sougarret kept recruiting fresh expertise as the situation changed. As new specialists continued to arrive, he avoided imposing excessive hierarchy, anxious not to insulate himself from the dynamics on the ground. 
    He kept in constant contact with various groups, regularly highlighting the interdependencies among roles, which were clearer from his vantage point than they were to those focused on individual projects. Sougarret was also quick to exploit the emerging collaborations and leadership dynamics he observed. For example, noting the deep respect that peers accorded Walter Véliz, Sougarret put him in charge of drilling operations during the search phase.
    Within a week of the accident, as many as six drilling efforts were under way, but it wasn’t clear whether any of them would hit the miners’ shelter. Thankfully, more ideas streamed in. One came from Felipe Matthews, a Chilean geologist who showed up at San José with a new technology for measuring drilling trajectories. 
    A gyroscope-like probe could be inserted into a drilling hole and, regardless of the position of the mounted drill, find the vertical. After conducting tests, team leaders concluded that Matthews’s equipment was the most accurate and consistent at measuring trajectories underground. 
    Sougarret immediately put Matthews in charge of monitoring the accuracy of all drilling attempts and asked the other experts measuring drill profiles to leave.
    During the subsequent rescue phase, a brilliant idea came from a 24-year-old field engineer, Igor Proestakis, who worked with Drillers Supply, S.A., and came to San José on his own. He believed that an American company’s cluster hammer technology could cut through the hard rock quicker than other drills could. Matthews and Véliz listened to him, felt that he might be right, and immediately took him to Sougarret. 
    “If you look at it from his [Sougarret’s] perspective, this was probably the most important job of his life. Despite my experience and age, he listened to me, asked questions, and gave me a chance,” says Proestakis, whose drilling team would ultimately be the first to reach the miners.
    Just as leaders span boundaries to invite in more innovation, they must also patrol them to increase the chances of successful execution. Clear boundaries give people the space they need to think, organize, experiment, and reflect. 
    Recognizing this, Sougarret would not allow the families and the press to interact with the rescue team directly but personally updated them every day, with the assistance of René Aguilar, a risk expert from Codelco with a degree in psychology. 
    As more and more family members continued to arrive, Aguilar helped them cope with their fears at a tent city that sprang up a short distance away, Campamento Esperanza (Camp Hope). “We wanted the drillers, engineers, and geologists to drill and work without any noise and distraction,” he explains.
    Sougarret, Aguilar, and mining minister Golborne, who was a regular visitor at San José, worked hard to inspire the technical team as it coped with frequent failure and painfully little daily progress. They offered support and regularly emphasized the mission’s urgency. Whenever members of the rescue effort hit roadblocks, the leaders shifted seamlessly to sustaining their involvement and motivating them. 
    They created a psychologically safe environment, never blaming anyone and always focusing on the learning generated by failure. “It was a high-pressure environment. When someone looked low, we would ask: ‘Hey, are you OK? Is your family OK? Why don’t you take a rest?’ These are small things, but they helped create a sense that we were there for each other,” recalls Aguilar.
    Engage: Direct Execution and Enable Innovation
    Engagement is about action, diving in, doing the work. In ambiguous and dynamic environments, leaders drive that process through an unusual mix of disciplined execution and rapid innovation.
    At the San José mine, the depth and size of the refuge made locating it staggeringly difficult. Boring down to a target 2,300 feet deep with even a 5% margin of error implied that drills could end up anywhere in a base area of over 40,000 square feet. As the refuge was about 530 square feet in size, the chance that any given drill hole would find it was a little over 1.25%, or about one chance in 80. 
    The poor quality of available maps of the mine tunnels further reduced the odds. Even if the team drilled multiple boreholes, the shot-in-the-dark strategy was unlikely to succeed.
    To maximize the chances of success, several teams worked independently to come up with different drilling plans, as mentioned earlier. Though many drilling attempts failed, they yielded crucial information about the mine and the rock. For instance, the drillers discovered that the fallen rock had trapped water and sedimentary rocks, which increased drill deviations. That would make it even more difficult to find the refuge in time.
    One innovation restored hope. Miners usually measure results after they finish drilling holes and reach the targeted depth. At the suggestion of the team leaders, the drillers at San José started taking measurements every few hours, abandoning holes that seemed to deviate too much and quickly starting over again—discouraging as that was. The short action-assessment cycles minimized the time and resources spent pursuing fruitless paths and allowed corrections in almost real time.
    Frequent measurements revealed the patterns of deviation in boreholes that occurred as the rescue teams drilled down at an angle. (Drilling straight down was avoided to prevent another cave-in.) To reach the refuge, drillers would have to start in a direction quite different from its estimated location and account for the inescapable but difficult-to-project curve revealed by real-time drill profile data. Drillers incorporated these technical data constantly into their plans, updating them more than once every day.
    To facilitate engagement, Sougarret used an organizational design that combined centralized and decentralized components. Daily communications with families and the press and morning updates among the technical heads were tightly controlled affairs. Technical subgroup leaders, who met every morning, used a strict communications protocol to handle the transition between the day and night shifts and to conduct routine maintenance. At the same time, they were allowed to independently design and conduct any tests they wished.
    Rather than creating a schedule in advance, Sougarret called short meetings as needed, especially to hold postmortems on failed tests or efforts. In the operation’s complex and fast-changing context, it was essential to balance an assessment of the big picture with an awareness of details that just might matter. Although Sougarret personally executed few of the tactical steps, our interviews uncovered several instances where his skillful inquiry generated innovation by pushing thinking deeper and connecting it with the larger picture.
    Sougarret encouraged the team to do things quickly. Failure was inevitable; the key was to fail fast and learn fast, executing multiple ideas at once—not sequentially—because time was the scarcest resource. He kept pushing people to figure out what each misstep could teach the organization and put fresh insights into practice as the next effort got under way.
    Tolerance for imperfect execution is essential in dynamic situations. Few new ideas can be executed flawlessly the first time around. However, tolerance does not mean being undemanding; leaders need to create the psychological safety to learn but integrate it with accountability and motivate people to do their best.
    After 17 days of drilling, the team finally discovered the trapped miners. On August 22, the eighth borehole reached a ramp in the mine about 66 feet from the shelter. For days, the trapped miners had heard drills nearing and prepared notes, which they taped to the drill tip when it broke through.
     Up top, the drilling engineers thought they heard something, but even they were surprised to find the notes when they pulled out the drill bit, three hours later. “Estamos bien en el refugio, los 33” (“We are well in the shelter, the 33”), said one written on a piece of paper in red marker.
    Over the next 52 days, three teams worked in parallel to extract the miners. Plan A, a slow option, used the massive Australian-built Strata 950 rig to drill and widen a circular hole. Plan B used cluster hammer technology from an American company, Center Rock, to widen existing boreholes to accommodate a rescue capsule. 
    Plan C drilled a wide escape shaft in a single pass, with a powerful oil rig operated by the Canadian company Precision Drilling, but repeatedly suffered course deviations owing to the hardness of the rock. Meanwhile, the Chilean Navy and NASA worked on building a steel rescue capsule with retractable wheels.
    When the team using Plan B finally broke through to the refuge, on October 9, Plan A had drilled 85% of the required depth and Plan C, 62%. Four days later the last of the 33 miners would be hoisted to the surface in the rescue capsule and reunited with his family.
    A Shifting Focus
    Executives leading change efforts usually tackle the three key tasks in a logical progression, first envisioning the future, then enrolling change agents, and last engaging in the work of change. This linear flow falls short in dynamic environments. Because engagement brings frequent bursts of crucial new knowledge, constant reenvisioning is essential. The reshaped reality calls for new paths to success and often changes who needs to be enrolled in the effort.
    For instance, at Pixar, a company that routinely faces ambiguity and tight deadlines, learning and execution are intertwined in the production process. An initial vision is executed on storyboards, but daily meetings lead to frequent deviation, experimentation, debate, and learning that result in a new vision. Periodically, as Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson point out in their book Innovate the Pixar Way, the team reaches out to enroll a “brain trust”—a flexible group of directors and experts—to get additional input.
    Envisioning, enrolling, and engaging thus constitute overlapping leadership tasks. Changes in any one task will necessitate changes in the other two, so work on all three will coevolve over the course of the effort. This means companies must shift from an orderly and sequential process to a dynamic, iterative one.
    Since no one really knows how the process will unfold, the need for rapid learning is central. When Phil Bernstein, a senior executive at the software company Autodesk, wanted to build a striking new corporate headquarters outside Boston against a demanding deadline, he turned to integrated project delivery, a radical process innovation in the construction industry. 
    It requires all project stakeholders to work as a team from the outset, exchanging ideas, identifying solutions, and even sharing profits and losses. Few knew how the new process would evolve. However, Bernstein’s team learned from its day-to-day mistakes, corrected course rapidly, and delivered an award-winning building on time and on budget.
    It isn’t easy for leaders to make the shift to an iterative process; most cultures and systems will stifle their attempts. Among the obstacles are the unfamiliarity of new norms and behaviors and the weight of existing processes. Executives will have to shed the deeply embedded beliefs that important business challenges and opportunities are well defined, are technical in nature, and yield to the disciplined application of expertise, and that quarterly performance measures are the right way to assess how well they’ve been addressed. Today’s threats and opportunities are increasingly ambiguous and changeable and require far more fluid, creative teamwork. They require leaders who can direct and empower at the same time. That doesn’t mean sending mixed messages but, rather, entails communicating explicitly that the demands of the environment call for both execution and innovation.
    Executives have to overcome their reliance on a single approach to leadership. They’re not immune to the hammer-and-nail problem, and approaches that have worked in the past are often irresistible even if the present bears little resemblance to it. A desire to do something, even when it is not clear what to do, is strong. In fast-changing environments, it is easy for leaders to overinvest in doing and underinvest in reflecting on alternative possibilities.
    In such environments, failure is evidence that a task has yet to be mastered, but recurrent failure, coupled with high stress, is difficult to confront. As soon as leaders start ignoring data that don’t support their assumptions, the process of making adjustments stalls. Leaders must develop a healthy tolerance for failure and ambiguity in order to use the dual approach to leadership effectively.


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    English is bad for India, eroding cultural values: Rightwing BJP chief 
    BJP president Rajnath Singh: File Pic
    BJP president Rajnath Singh: File Pic

    ENGLISH IS BAD FOR INDIA,ERODING CULTURAL VALUES

    Says BJP leader Sri. Rajnath Singh

    Shyam's view,

    IT IS NOT THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, BUT THE ENGLISH CULTURE THAT MAY BE COMING IN THE WAY OF INCULCATING THE INDIAN CULTURE IN THE CHILDREN OF THE COUNTRY.


    English language has helped us to sustain in the international community for more than half a century.It can do no wrong to us.


    Having said that,


    We all share Sri. Rajnath Singh's concern about the erosion in the Indian culture.


    The history of two Indian Languages Hindi & Urdu is synonymous with that the history of Indian culture. This two languages have played an enormous role in building a harmony in diversity.


    However it is the English language that has contributed to the fact of Indians being accepted  everywhere globally.It has contributed to our tremendous  economic growth specially.in the last two decades.


    However politicians are politicians, at best they promote their personal or party agenda. at worst, only God knows what they do. 


    Hence not much heed should be paid to the statements issued by the politicians, what ever their political affiliations be..



    I will be happy to have your views on this important issue.



    Shyam



    In a major embarrassment for India, president of right wing Hindu party BJP has said English language is bad for India as it has caused great loss to country and eroded cultural values.



    The president of Indian rightwing Hindu party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Rajnath Singh has caused a political storm by his controversial remarks that English language is bad for India as it has caused great loss to country and eroded cultural values.

    “The English language has caused a great loss to the country. We are losing our language, our culture as there are hardly any people who speak Sanskrit now,” said Singh, who is BJP president.

    He said people in India have started to forget their religion and culture these days. “There are only 14,000 people left in this country speaking in Sanskrit. Knowledge acquired out of English is not harmful but the Anglicization penetrated into the youth is dangerous.”

    Singh had further said that people in India have lost everything in the era of modernism. “English language has caused maximum damage to India. Knowing or speaking English is not bad but the problem is when we try to act like an Englishman”.

    Comments draw strong criticism from political leaders


    The Hindu leader’s comments have drawn strong criticism from major political leaders of India.

    Senior leader of Indian Congress and Indian Minister of State for Human Resources Development Shashi Tharoor said English language is an asset. “The fact is that English has been a great advantage for us during our economic expansion in the last 20 years. The fact that we have knowledgeable, educated, English speaking young people, has been a huge asset enhancing the economic growth, trade, outsourcing”.

    Another Congress leader and Indian Minister for Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari said BJP had itself “outsourced” its vision document to people who only spoke English. “I sometimes feel like laughing at our friends. On one side their vision document is outsourced to people who don’t speak any language other than English. Is this medievalism or hypocrisy,”

    He said this attempt to create a dispute over language or saying that one language is better or worse that another, doesn’t strengthen the country and is not expected from a responsible political party.”

    ‘It reflects BJP’s preoccupation with Hindu revivalism’


    Senior leader of Communist party Sitaram Yechury said the statement reflects BJP chief’s preoccupation with Hindu revivalism. “Just by learning a language, people don’t lose cultural roots or foundations. For most Indians, English is an additional language, and it does not insulate or separate people from their identities”.

    He said knowing English will only help Indians to advance and develop further.

    Another Indian leader said rightwing BJP was opposed to English language as it is at odds with modernity itself. “All things Indian by tradition, be it caste, be it social structure, political structure, have stopped India from growing into a modern society. If English is eliminating tradition, it is also eliminating a culture that is caste-driven”.

    “It (BJP) is opposing English because of its opposition to modernity itself,” he added.


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    The Women’s Economic Agenda: A Path to Increased Opportunity and Stronger Economic Growth

    Written by Eileen Appelbaum   

    Corporate profits have done well in the lopsided recovery and the stock market is hovering near record highs. Working women and men have been left behind, however, as companies have failed to translate these improvements into robust job growth, rising wages or improvements in the quality of jobs. Income gains since the economy bottomed out in July 2009 have all gone to the top 1 percent of households.

    Women lost fewer jobs than men in the recession; the slow recovery in men’s jobs requires far more attention from policy makers than it has received. But women have also fared poorly as job creation has predominantly occurred in low wage jobs as retail sales clerks, restaurant wait staff, child care workers, cashiers and food service. Protracted problems facing women workers that preceded the recession have only been exacerbated by slow employment growth.

    Perhaps the most meaningful measure of women’s economic opportunity is the share of women between the ages of 25 and 54 – the prime years for both motherhood and employment – that actually have jobs. In 1990, the U.S. was a leader in terms of employment opportunities for women. Today, it is a laggard. In the years preceding the recession, 72.5 percent of prime age women in the U.S. held jobs. Now it is 69.2 percent – barely above its post-recession low of 69.0% in 2011 and the same as the employment rate of women in Japan, a country not known for providing women with economic opportunities. 


    In fact, the U.S. ranks 24th out of 34 industrialized countries, behind not only the Nordic countries and the major countries of continental Europe, but behind the rest of the English-speaking world (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the U.K.).  

    The failure of U.S. businesses to create the jobs a growing workforce requires is one reason that the share of prime age women with jobs is relatively low. But it is also due in no small measure to the lack of policies that let a woman go to work knowing that her children are well cared for and that she won’t lose her job if she needs to be there for her family. Employment standards have not been updated to match the 21st century realities that working women and their families face. It’s no secret that workers paid the minimum wage cannot buy the basics for their families. Their lack of purchasing power means less business for the groceries, pharmacies, repair shops and stores in their communities.

     Except in Connecticut and a half a dozen cities, U.S. workers are not guaranteed the right to earn paid sick days; and a shocking 40 percent of American workers lack even one paid sick day. Just three states make it possible for workers to contribute to a state insurance fund so they can draw income when they need to be home to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. Pregnant women have few protections against discrimination on the job, and workers with family responsibilities often find themselves passed over for training and advancement opportunities. Few working families have access to affordable, quality child care and pre-school for their young children.

    In July 1848, five women braved ridicule and insult to call for an assembly to demand an end to the constraints holding women back. 300 women and men met in Seneca Falls, New York and declared that it was time to update the nation’s laws and business practices to respect the contributions of all women, to end slavery, to give women the vote, to let women keep the wages they earned, to reduce barriers that prevent women from entering ‘male’ occupations, and to improve the inhumane working conditions prevalent in factories and mills. 

    On July 18 of this year, minority leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Women of the House will launch an agenda that addresses the economic challenges facing women and families today. The planks of this agenda call for raising wages for women and their families, enabling working parents to take paid leaves when they must care for their families, and providing access to quality and affordable child care.

    The Women’s Economic Agenda, launched on the 165th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments, holds the promise of higher earnings and more secure employment for women and men and higher growth for the economy as families feel more confident about the future and have more income to spend. And, like that earlier document, the Agenda increases economic opportunity for workers and promotes a stronger and more robust economy.


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    Cong opens the social window to polls

    Kavita Chowdhury
    When Rahul Gandhi, then the newly-appointed Congress vice-president, addressed a CII conclave earlier this year, the social media took a dig and it started trending on Twitter as #PappuCII. Even as it was said the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) organised social media trolls were at work, Gandhi’s (aka Pappu’s) address generated 40,000 tweets. Then, the 128-year-old GOP (Grand Old Party), the Congress, did not know what had hit it.

    But, a few days later, when Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modistarted speaking at Ficci, #Feku (aka Modi) was topping the trends with 45,000 tweets — the Congress had hurriedly got its act together.

    Three months on, the party has revamped its media cell, called the ‘communications department’. The cell, headed by Ajay Maken, has brought the volunteer programme, ‘With Congress’, in a move to encourage Pradesh Congress Committees (PCCs) to live stream press conferences on Youtube.

    The cell on Monday launched Khidkee.com, a social media platform for Congress workers across the board to enable “internal conversations with the party’s top brass.”

    Now, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) seems to be truly on a roll.

    The Congress on Monday kicked off its first ever workshop on communication to train its spokespersons and state representatives on how to get across UPA’s initiatives and messages in the run-up to the 2014 general elections. The two-day workshop, called the ‘All India Communication Workshop’ is training party members on handling the conventional print and television and the new social media.

    For a party infamous for reacting only when pushed and whose president, Sonia Gandhi, has been panned as the ‘Sphinx’, the Congress is truly on a communication overdrive spearheaded by Rahul Gandhi.

    At a time the UPA government under the Congress was being lambasted for its alleged scams, the party’s high command feared “the Congress message of social welfare initiatives were getting lost in the din”. So, the media & communications overhaul is expected to turn the corners for the party.

    The much talked about Khidkee.com is a social media platform — much like Facebook but exclusively for partymen. It is open to members of the Indian Youth Congress, Congress and its students wing NSUI. Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily’s son-in-law Anand Adkoli, a techie with a stint at Oracle, was the brains behind the ‘Khidkee’ initiative.

    In Rahul Gandhi’s words, “it is a window that will enable conversations between the party workers with the top brass”. The members will be given a login id, will be able to put up posts, have discussions on policy initiatives and discuss issues with leaders, who would otherwise have been inaccessible.

    Even as the Congress is are slogging to beef up its social media presence, the UPA government it leads, too, is not far behind. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), with its Twitter handle @PMOIndia, has been hyper active — tweeting snippets of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statements on the economy, on development, etc, within seconds of those being uttered at events. Statistics, charts and reports are routinely uploaded on the Twitter handle.

    An insider of the communications wing of the party emphasises: “The two planks of the Congress are food security and development. Direct benefits transfer will also be thrown into this mix. That’s the only way we can counter the Opposition onslaught on corruption.” In fact, that is the reason why the Congress was so pro-active in countering Narendra Modi when he questioned UPA’s track record. “Development is the only plank on which we can go to the polls and there is no way we can let Modi peddle his lies on that and take away our advantage,” the party shot back on Twitter.

    Explaining the economic initiatives of UPA to the assembled Congressmen on Monday, Finance Minister P Chidambaram reportedly said: “Stress on the regional media. The English media and English newspaper readers have no real impact on elections.” Was that the astute finance minister’s strike to hit the nail right on the head?


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    Transforming Solar Pumping to Eliminate Rural Poverty



    By Paul Polak, Founder, iDE
    What if we could harness the limitless power of the sun to carry  water to the crops of millions of small poor farmers around the world?
    If I want to water my petunias, I turn on the tap outside my house, hold my thumb over the end of a battered green hose, and water away.

    If a small farmer in Ghana or China wants to water a small patch of vegetables he’s growing to sell in the local market, he breaks his back hauling water in two buckets or sprinkling cans from a nearby stream. It takes six hours a day every other day for three months to water a tenth of an acre of vegetables that he hopes to sell for $100.
    The billion rural poor people in the world today want out of poverty, but to do that they need to grow more cash crops to increase their income. The only way to grow more cash crops is to pump water. However, the current ways of doing it don’t work.
    Foot Pumps, Diesel Pumps, and Solar Pumps
    A foot-operated treadle pump that costs $25 will irrigate as much as half an acre with about four hours/day of work to earn a transformative $100 or more in new income after expenses. But this is very hard work, and anybody in his right mind would prefer to use a mechanized pump if he could afford it. A five horse power diesel pump irrigates two and a half acres of vegetables, but it costs $350, and $450 a year for diesel, and another $150 a year for repairs - $2100 over three years, not counting the damage to the crop when the diesel pump is down waiting to be repaired. It is too expensive for poor farmers. 

    What if the same farmer could use a 2-kilowatt electric pump powered by solar photovoltaic panels instead? The fuel costs and operating costs would be pretty close to zero. But, there’s a big catch.  It would cost about $7,000! Most small farmers in Asia and Africa could never afford to buy one of these either.
    A Way Out of Poverty for Rural Farmers
    But there is a way out! What if we could find a way to cut the cost of a 2-kilowatt solar pump system from $7,000 to $2500? What if we added a $1400, 2.5-acre low-cost drip system, and used the solar pump/drip system to grow 2.5 acres of diversified off-season fruits, vegetables and spices? Doing this, farmers can clear at least $4500, enough to make payments on a 3-year loan or lease and put some real money in his pocket. That’s the way out of poverty!
    SunWater - the Project
    The SunWater project aims to achieve breakthrough affordability for photovoltaic pumping and irrigation, enabling small farmers all over the world to move out of poverty. Farmers using these pumps will also provide jobs for the their neighbors to plant, weed, harvest and market the crops they grow.
    Today, 19 million diesel engines are being used to pump irrigation water from shallow wells in India alone, spewing millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. If marketplace forces could replace a quarter of them with radically affordable solar photovoltaic powered pump systems, we could transform small farmers’ livelihoods and radically reduce rural carbon emissions. 

    SunWater Technology
    We are launching an Indiegogo campaign to develop a 2kw solar-powered pumping system that can do the same job as a 5 hp diesel pump, the most commonly used size. We’re taking a whole-systems approach - we use mirrors to concentrate the sun, which brings down the cost of the solar cell. Since we’re pumping water, we use the water to cool the solar cells, increasing their efficiency. We hook up an inverter so we can use an AC pump motor, which are widely available and cheap. Then we tune the mirrors, solar cells, cooling system, and pump so that it gives the right output for the right cost.

    These pumps can only pump during the day, but they don’t use diesel fuel, they rarely break down, and when they do, they can be repaired easily. This system has very low operating costs compared to a diesel pump.

    The system will cost $2,500 instead of $7,000, and when paired with a low-cost efficient drip irrigation system, a farmer can pay it off in two years. This quick payback time makes all the difference. At that price, with access to leasing to overcome the purchase price barrier the solar pumping systems should fly off the shelf . And after the payback, there’s no fuel to buy. The Indian government has a 20% subsidy on these systems, so the cost to the farmer will be close to $2,000.
    How You Can Help
    If you too want to help transform the lives of poor rural farmers so they can raise themselves out of poverty, you can contribute to this Indiegogo campaign.

    This project will open the door to transforming water pumping for farmers in developing nations, and start them on the path to bringing electricity to a billion people who will never connect to the grid. The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Will you help us invent a future of abundance for the people who need it most, rural farmers in India and Africa, by contributing to Indiegogo?



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    Social Enterprises Provide Jobs for World's Most 

    Disadvantaged Populations



    Photo: Providence Granola Project.  Providence Granola provides refugees with employment and job training.

    Around the world, people suffer from limited economic opportunities because of their backgrounds. Whether this be due to the class they were born into, a lack of education or marketable skills, a criminal record, or a language barrier, exclusion from the workforce can be a matter of life and death for these individuals and their families in the wake of personal, political and natural disasters.

     In a world where millions of people have been abandoned by the traditional economies of their countries, social enterprises have risen to the occasion to provide opportunity and hope.

    Social enterprises are mission-driven organizations that seek to maximize social impact by selling products and services to fund their social mandates. Social enterprises provide vehicles for training and employing people with barriers to traditional employment.

    We see social enterprises alleviating poverty in our own communities and around the world. For example, when Zaid arrived in my home state of Rhode Island as a refugee from Iraq, he didn’t know many people, he didn’t know much English, and he certainly didn’t have a job. It was 2008. The massive economic downturn had made it nearly impossible for anyone, let alone someone in Zaid’s position, to find work.

     Fortunately, through the International Institute of Rhode Island, Zaid met Keith, the co-founder of Providence Granola, a granola company that provides refugees with employment and job training. So far, Providence Granola has provided jobs for more than twenty refugees and sustained its job-training program through granola sales. Zaid isn’t alone in finding economic opportunity through a social enterprise, and Providence Granola is just one of over 30,000 social enterprises that operates in the United States (Business Week, 2009), not to mention that countless others making a difference in some of the world’s poorest countries.

    Though social enterprises have made great strides in providing training and jobs for some of the world’s most disadvantaged populations, social enterprises themselves often struggle to reach consumers and sell their products. This is particularly unfortunate, given that consumers are increasingly interested in making socially responsible purchases, but they don’t know where to go to conveniently buy products that improve their communities.  

    From this context emerged the idea for Buy with Heart, an online marketplace that helps customers find the products they want while supporting the causes that matter. Buy with Heart is motivated by two core beliefs:

    • Social enterprises have an extraordinary capacity to make social change if given the right marketing support and access to consumers.
    • Consumers can revolutionize the world, simply by purchasing the items that they already buy for themselves and their friends and family.

    Buy with Heart provides substantial value for both social enterprises and 
    consumers.

    For many social enterprises, Buy with Heart provides their only access to online commerce. Others benefit from having another venue to reach customers, as well as additional promotional services, such as publicity through the Buy with Heart Blog and social media postings.

    Buy with Heart provides consumers with a voice in their purchasing decisions by offering information about the social impact of each product and allowing customers to search by social cause. Furthermore, Buy with Heart handpicks the products on the site, seeking to have a broad appeal by offering items for people of all ages and backgrounds. Products currently listed on the site include clothing, food, stationery, and accessories ranging from scarves to iPhone Cases. Buy with Heart researches and communicates directly with each organization listed on the site, so consumers can have confidence that their purchases are supporting important causes.

    Social enterprises are already having a substantial impact on poverty by providing support and employment for some of the world’s most disadvantaged populations. With the proper resources and support from consumers, they can make even greater progress in the long journey to eradicate poverty.


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