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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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    These Rings Are Made From Smog Sucked Out Of Beijing Skies


    One benefit of serious pollution: you can suck out the pollution and turn it into fake diamonds.




    While the Chinese government makes plans to fight deadly levels of smog by building a new power grid and getting old cars off the road, a Dutch artist living in Beijing is tackling the problem on a smaller scale: Daan Roosegaarde wants to suck pollution from the city's air and turn it into high-end jewelry.
    Using technology that attracts pollution through static electricity, Roosegaarde plans to pull smog from a 40-by-40 meter chunk above a city park. The same tech is already used on a smaller scale at hospitals to filter air, and the designer's team is developing a lightweight, modular version that they plan to install in the park next year.

















    "It is a strange process to suck the pollution out of the air and have it in our hands a few minutes later," Roosegaarde says. "It looks like a mystic black powder, but most mesmerizing about this is that normally you would have to breathe it."
    The designers will take the dirty air collected by the machine and transform it into rings. One version will hold a clear stone containing a tiny cube of soot; another will be processed into a fake diamond.
    "I wanted to make people part of the solution, not part of the problem," Roosegarde says. "Making tangible and wearable material of the smog is a way of creating awareness. By buying or sharing the smog ring you donate 1,000 cubic meters of clean air to the city."











    Of course, the machine in the park won't make much of a difference in the city's air as a whole--or treat the underlying causes of the pollution--but Roosegaarde hopes it might remind people of what clean air looks like and why it's worth fighting for.
    "By creating the cleanest park in Beijing, you create an experience of how the future will look, what it will feel like," he says. "People will see all the differences in between the old and the new air. They can feel it, smell it, and breathe it. This will create an incentive to update the whole city such as electric cars, clean industry, cycling. Our smog project stands as a springboard for other initiatives, to update reality."

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    10 Imaginative Ideas From Genius Kids To Solve Our Global Waste Problem

    What if, instead of paying millions of dollars to export trash from cities to festering dumps in other parts of the country, we could export our garbage bags to virtual realities instead? And what if, instead of buying a new smartphone every few years before chucking it, we held onto indestructible ones for the duration of our lives?
    These are just a couple of ideas generated by some 270 school children over the last three years. Massachusetts-based creative research firm and marketing company Latitudeteamed up with schools in France, Germany, the Czech Republic, and the United States to ask the kids how they might deal with one of today's most intractable issues: waste.



















    Their answers, as one might expect, waver between brilliance and silliness. And for a generation in which some are raised on iPads before they learn how to use a toilet, many of the solutions are technology-oriented. But that also offers a valuable reflection on how technology is being deployed today. Some answers, like the trash-filled VR worlds, show us the limits of technological solutionism. Others, like recycling junk metal in order to make bridges, seem pretty useful. And maybe if they can't all be executed, there's still value to the more creative suggestions. What if we did fill up a virtual reality with the trash we generate in the real world? Would it make the digitally-preoccupied more aware of global consumption patterns?

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    Mobilizing the Insurgency



    The insurgent sustainability director’s goal is to empower allies to link social intelligence with their job responsibilities and the company’s overall sustainability strategy. This begins by encouraging functional managers to “relate” with key constituencies and harvest their own functionally relevant social intelligence.
    As this occurs, CSR directors help employees “translate” their gathered intelligence into business insights that are connected to and aligned with the company’s strategy and the functional manager’s responsibilities. The CSR director then helps “incubate” sustainability-informed projects that create value for both the business and the identified constituencies. Finally, CSR directors ensure that the value created becomes core to the business by “acculturating” the organization to the new values and associated management processes.

    Relate

    “Relate” is the process used to obtain social intelligence and is something that your people already do. The goal of insurgent CSR directors is to inspire employees to identify social intelligence that will enhance the company’s performance and support its CSR goals.
    Encouraging community volunteerism is a common way to generate social insights. For instance, Costa Rica-based Florida Ice and Farm Beverage Company (FIFCO) is the region’s largest producer of beer and soft drinks. This makes it a major consumer of fresh water — a demand could potentially pit the company against local communities also dependent on local water supplies. 
    To help employees understand these water demands (and the user communities), CSR managers engaged employees in community projects focused on restoring watersheds serving indigenous communities. In one such project, an army of 178 blue-shirted employees waded through the Aqueduct Gavilán Canta river system to ensure the provision of clean water for the indigenous peoples of Talamanca. Florida managers believe this direct interaction between employees, communities and shared resources dramatically enhances social intelligence.
    Burt’s Bees, a natural personal-care products company, finds volunteerism so valuable for relating that it has made it mandatory for all employees. Using the euphemism “non-optional,” Burt’s has even shut down production so its 400 or so employees could engage in projects like building playgrounds and affordable homes for local communities. Other projects tie into the company’s production needs, including volunteer efforts to protect eponymous bee populations from colony collapse disorder.
    Walmart has taken an alternative approach to helping employees relate. In 2007, the company created the voluntary Personal Sustainability Projects (PSP) program that encourages associates to adopt practices that benefit their communities, their families and themselves. PSPs can be nearly anything, but must be personal and involve the local community. Ranging from commitments to recycle to recruiting family and friends to get out and exercise, the PSP program is employee-led, with associates recruiting and training others.
    Programs like these can enhance employees’ natural tendency to relate, but do so in ways that are directly relevant to the company’s social agenda. As employees gain greater social intelligence insurgent CSR directors then help them see their application to their business responsibilities.

    Translate

    While research has shown that employees value volunteer opportunities offered by their companies, CSR directors want to see the social intelligence accumulated by these relating activities put to work for the organization. They therefore help translate a functional manager’s new social intelligence and align it with the company’s overall CSR efforts. To do so, insurgent sustainability managers have to understand the goals of their colleagues and help them see the benefits of implementing sustainability initiatives in their functional areas.
    Translating sustainability into a value proposition that functional managers understand requires command of the local “sustainability dialect” that’s appropriate for different functional areas like finance, sales, logistics and so on. Learning the different sustainability dialects of each functional area requires a general management understanding of the business functions, as well as the local organizational culture specific to each company. It also requires a deep understanding of how sustainability fits into the function’s goals, incentive structures and capabilities.
    The next post will explore the sustainability dialects for business functions in more depth. For now, recognize that it is the sustainability insurgent’s responsibility to explain the potential for value creation in terms that a potential ally can understand and link that value to the overall goals of the company.

    Incubate

    To have an impact, the social intelligence must be applied, so the next task is to incubate sustainability projects within the company. Insurgent sustainability directors do so by turning their office into a “social intrapreneurship” incubator, working with functional mangers to define and secure the required resources needed for a project. As the effort advances, CSR directors monitor the progress and provides support as needed.
    One of the most important roles for the sustainability officer is to provide cover for the functional managers. While many sustainability initiatives are well known and proven, they still come with some level of risk. Sustainability directors need to insulate functional managers so that they feel free to innovate and are not paralyzed by the potential consequences of failure. They have to have permission to fail; if not, they’ll never try. Focusing on quick wins can create the confidence needed to move to the next level.
    An example of incubation is the leading Spanish bank BBVA’s reliance on workshops to share inspirational examples of innovative CSR initiatives with managers. Enthused participants are then encouraged to apply their social intelligence to their functional responsibilities and develop their own CSR initiative. After the program, participants work to implement their initiatives with the help of the CSR director’s office. In one instance, the workshop motivated sales managers to think about their contracts with retail customers. They soon recognized that complex legal language in banking contracts made it difficult for customers to understand agreement. This social insight inspired the managers to redraft company agreements in plain language so that the mutual commitments would be clear to customers.
    Once social intelligence is unleashed, ideas can come from anywhere. Take Darryl Meyers, an associate at a Walmart store in Burlington, NC. Going about his duties, Darryl noticed a constant 24-hour glow emanating from the store break rooms — a light he found coming from soda machines, which were left on permanently. To Darryl, who had been inspired by Walmart’s PSP program, this seemed a waste, so he made the suggestion that the company turn off the lights. This simple suggestion incubated an initiative that resulted in $1M in annual savings to Walmart.

    Acculturate

    Incubated successes will encourage more applications of social intelligence and the CSR director’s responsibility becomes one of identifying and nurturing ideas wherever they spring from. But there is a larger task at work. Insurgent CSR directors also need to embed sustainability into the company’s core if it is going to stick. I call this final process acculturation, a practice that embeds CSR values into the company’s DNA. There are two key aspects of acculturation: corporate culture and business processes.
    The term du jour for CSR is creating “shared value” for the company and society. However, the task for insurgent CSR directors is to move the company from “shared value” to “shared values.” By acculturating the organization to the values inherent in the CSR initiatives, social intelligence becomes an embedded reflex and part of the organizational culture.
    The worth of shared organizational values is often underestimated by traditional managers. Much of management theory assumes that employees are inherently lazy and need to be financially incentivized and monitored by superiors. But all great social change is a result of a group of people incentivized, not by financial reward, but by a shared vision about the value of their collective endeavor. Sustainability directors help the company to tap into the strength of shared values.
    Shari Arison, owner of the Arison Group of companies in Israel, is actively using values to unify and energize the entire group. A diverse collection of industrial, financial and even non-profit organizations, the Arison Group is joined in a collective effort to succeed financially but also socially. One example is “Good Deeds Day,” which inspires employees and Israelis across the country to volunteer. In collectively fostering shared value, Arison Group’s shared values become an important motivational and unifying driver.
    The other part of acculturation is embedding sustainability into the company’s business processes, routines and planning. This takes a different form in each functional area. For the HR function, it maybe the inclusion of sustainability in recruiting and new employee on-boarding. In Finance, it might be enterprise risk management and reporting. For Manufacturing, it could be supply-chain standards and design for environment protocols.
    The end game of the CSR insurgency is the acculturation of shared values that ingrains responsibility into the organizational fabric and builds sustainability into the modus operandi of daily business. The insurgency is over when the sustainability function and its leadership are no longer needed.

    Courtesy MIT Sloan Management Review 

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    Manage Your Work, Manage Your Life


    Work/life balance is at best an elusive ideal and at worst a complete myth, today’s senior executives will tell you. But by making deliberate choices about which opportunities they’ll pursue and which they’ll decline, rather than simply reacting to emergencies, leaders can and do engage meaningfully with work, family, and community. They’ve discovered through hard experience that prospering in the senior ranks is a matter of carefully combining work and home so as not to lose themselves, their loved ones, or their foothold on success.
     Those who do this most effectively involve their families in work decisions and activities. They also vigilantly manage their own human capital, endeavoring to give both work and home their due—over a period of years, not weeks or days.
    That’s how the 21st-century business leaders in our research said they reconcile their professional and personal lives. In this article we draw on five years’ worth of interviews with almost 4,000 executives worldwide, conducted by students at Harvard Business School, and a survey of 82 executives in an HBS leadership course.
    Deliberate choices don’t guarantee complete control. Life sometimes takes over, whether it’s a parent’s dementia or a teenager’s car accident. But many of the executives we’ve studied—men and women alike—have sustained their momentum during such challenges while staying connected to their families. Their stories and advice reflect five main themes: defining success for yourself, managing technology, building support networks at work and at home, traveling or relocating selectively, and collaborating with your partner.
    Defining Success for Yourself

    When you are leading a major project, you determine early on what a win should look like. The same principle applies to leading a deliberate life: You have to define what success means to you—understanding, of course, that your definition will evolve over time.
    Executives’ definitions of professional and personal success run a gamut from the tactical to the conceptual (see the exhibit “How Leaders Define Work/Life ‘Wins’”). For one leader, it means being home at least four nights a week. For another, it means understanding what’s going on in the lives of family members. For a third, it’s about having emotional energy at both work and home.
    Some intriguing gender differences emerged in our survey data: In defining professional success, women place more value than men do on individual achievement, having passion for their work, receiving respect, and making a difference, but less value on organizational achievement and ongoing learning and development. A lower percentage of women than of men list financial achievement as an aspect of personal or professional success. Rewarding relationships are by far the most common element of personal success for both sexes, but men list merely having a family as an indicator of success, whereas women describe what a good family life looks like to them. Women are also more likely to mention the importance of friends and community as well as family.
    The survey responses consisted of short phrases and lists, but in the interviews executives often defined personal success by telling a story or describing an ideal self or moment in time. Such narratives and self-concepts serve as motivational goalposts, helping people prioritize activities and make sense of conflicts and inconsistencies.
    When work and family responsibilities collide, for example, men may lay claim to the cultural narrative of the good provider. Several male executives who admitted to spending inadequate time with their families consider absence an acceptable price for providing their children with opportunities they themselves never had. One of these men, poor during his childhood, said that his financial success both protects his children and validates his parents’ struggles. Another even put a positive spin on the breakup of his family: “Looking back, I would have still made a similar decision to focus on work, as I was able to provide for my family and become a leader in my area, and these things were important to me. Now I focus on my kids’ education...and spend a lot more time with them over weekends.”
    Even the men who pride themselves on having achieved some degree of balance between work and other realms of their lives measure themselves against a traditional male ideal. “The 10 minutes I give my kids at night is one million times greater than spending that 10 minutes at work,” one interviewee said. It’s difficult to imagine a woman congratulating herself for spending 10 minutes a day with her children, but a man may consider the same behavior exemplary.
    Indeed, women rarely view themselves as working for their families the way men do. Men still think of their family responsibilities in terms of breadwinning, whereas women often see theirs as role modeling for their children. Women emphasize (far more than men do) how important it is for their kids—particularly their daughters—to see them as competent professionals. One said, “I think that work is such a big part of who I am. I want my kids to understand what I do. I am a whole being.”
    Many women said that the most difficult aspect of managing work and family is contending with cultural expectations about mothering. One admitted that she stopped working at home after her daughter referred to the Bloomberg network as “Mommy’s channel.” Another commented, “When you are paid well, you can get all the [practical] help you need. What is the most difficult thing, though—what I see my women friends leave their careers for—is the real emotional guilt of not spending enough time with their children. The guilt of missing out.”
    Both men and women expressed versions of this guilt and associated personal success with not having regrets. They often cope by assigning special significance to a particular metric, such as never missing a Little League game or checking in once a day no matter what. “I just prioritize dinner with my family as if it was a 6 PM meeting with my most important client,” said one interviewee. Another offered this suggestion: “Design your house right—have a table in the kitchen where your kids can do homework while your husband cooks and you drink a glass of red wine.” Though expressed as advice, this is clearly her very personal, concrete image of what success at home looks like.
    Managing Technology
    Nearly all the interviewees talked about how critical it is to corral their e-mails, text messages, voice mails, and other communications. Deciding when, where, and how to be accessible for work is an ongoing challenge, particularly for executives with families. Many of them cautioned against using communications technology to be in two places at once, insisting on the value of undivided attention. “When I’m at home, I really am at home,” said one. “I force myself to not check my e-mail, take calls, et cetera. I want to give my kids 100% of my attention. But this also works the other way around, because when I’m at work I really want to focus on work. I believe that mixing these spheres too much leads to confusion and mistakes.”
    That last point is a common concern: Always being plugged in can erode performance. One leader observed that “certain cognitive processes happen when you step away from the frenetic responding to e-mails.” (The history of science, after all, is marked by insights that occurred not in the laboratory but while the scientist was engaged in a mundane task—or even asleep.) Another executive pointed out that 24-hour availability can actually hamper initiative in an organization: “If you have weak people who must ask your advice all the time, you feel important. But there is a difference between being truly important and just not letting anyone around you do anything without you.”
    Strikingly, some people at the top are starting to use communications technology less often while they’re working. Several invoked the saying “You can’t raise a kid by phone”—and pointed out that it’s not the best way to manage a team, either. Often, if it’s logistically possible, you’re better off communicating in person. How do you know when that’s the case? One interviewee made an important distinction between broadcasting information and exchanging and analyzing ideas: “Speaking [on the phone] is easy, but careful, thoughtful listening becomes very challenging. For the most important conversations, I see a real trend moving back to face-to-face. When you’re evaluating multibillion-dollar deals...you have to build a bridge to the people.”
    When it comes to technology in the home, more than a third of the surveyed executives view it as an invader, and about a quarter see it as a liberator. (The rest are neutral or have mixed feelings.) Some of them resent the smartphone’s infringement on family time: “When your phone buzzes,” one ruefully noted, it’s difficult to “keep your eyes on that soccer field.” Others appreciate the flexibility that technology affords them: “I will probably leave here around 4 PM to wrangle my kids,” said one participant, “but I will be back and locked into my network and e-mails by 8 PM.” Another participant reported, “Sometimes my kids give me a hard time about being on my BlackBerry at the dinner table, but I tell them that my BlackBerry is what enables me to be home with them.”
    Both camps—those who hate being plugged in and those who love it—acknowledged that executives must learn to manage communications technology wisely. Overall, they view it as a good servant but a bad master. Their advice in this area is quite consistent: Make yourself available but not too available to your team; be honest with yourself about how much you can multitask; build relationships and trust through face time; and keep your in-box under control.
    Building Support Networks
    Across the board, senior executives insisted that managing family and professional life requires a strong network of behind-the-scenes supporters. Absent a primary caregiver who stays at home, they see paid help or assistance from extended family as a necessity. The women in our sample are adamant about this. One said, “We hire people to do the more tactical things—groceries, cooking, helping the children dress—so that we can be there for the most important things.” Even interviewees without children said they needed support at home when they became responsible for aging parents or suffered their own health problems.
    Emotional support is equally essential. Like anyone else, executives occasionally need to vent when they’re dealing with something crazy or irritating at work, and friends and family are a safer audience than colleagues. Sometimes leaders also turn to their personal networks for a fresh perspective on a problem or a decision, because members of their teams don’t always have the distance to be objective.
    Support at work matters too. Trusted colleagues serve as valuable sounding boards. And many leaders reported that health crises—their own or family members’—might have derailed their careers if not for compassionate bosses and coworkers. The unexpected can waylay even the most carefully planned career.
    “When you’re young, you think you can control everything,” one interviewee said, “but you can’t.” Executives told stories about heart attacks, cancer, and parents in need of care. One talked about a psychotic reaction to medication. In those situations, mentors and team members helped leaders weather difficult times and eventually return to business as usual.
    What about mixing personal and professional networks, since executives must draw on both anyway? That’s up for discussion. The men we surveyed tend to prefer separate networks, and the women are pretty evenly split. Interviewees who favor integration said it’s a relief to be “the same person” in all contexts and natural to form friendships at work, where they spend most of their time. Those who separate their work lives from their private lives have many reasons for doing so. Some seek novelty and a counterbalance to work. “If all of your socializing centers around your work life, you tend to experience an ever-decreasing circle of influence and ideas,” one pointed out. Others want to protect their personal relationships from the churn of the workplace.
    Many women keep their networks separate for fear of harming their image. Some never mention their families at work because they don’t want to appear unprofessional. A few female executives won’t discuss their careers—or even mention that they have jobs—in conversations outside work. But again, not all women reported such conflict between their professional and personal “selves,” and several suggested that the tide is turning. One pointed out, “The more women have come into the workplace, the more I talk about my children.”
    Traveling or Relocating Selectively
    Discussions about work/life balance usually focus on managing time. But it’s also critical to manage your location—and, more broadly, your role in the global economy. When leaders decide whether to travel or relocate (internationally or domestically), their home lives play a huge part. That’s why many of them believe in acquiring global experience and racking up travel miles while they’re young and unencumbered. Of those surveyed, 32% said they had turned down an international assignment because they did not want to relocate their families, and 28% said they had done so to protect their marriages.

    Magazine

    March 2014

    Manage Your Work, Manage Your Life


    Several executives told stories about getting sidetracked or derailed in their careers because a partner or spouse needed to relocate. Of course, travel becomes even trickier with children. Many women reported cutting back on business trips after having children, and several executives of both sexes said they had refused to relocate when their children were adolescents. “When children are very young, they are more mobile,” one explained. “But once they are 12 or 13, they want to be in one place.”

    Female executives are less likely than men to be offered or accept international assignments, in part because of family responsibilities but also because of the restrictive gender roles in certain cultures or perceptions that they are unwilling to relocate. Our survey results—from a well-traveled sample—jibe with student interviewers’ qualitative findings. 
    Almost none of the men surveyed (less than 1%, compared with 13% of the women) had turned down an international assignment because of cultural concerns. But for female executives, not all travel is created equal: Gender norms, employment laws, health-care access, and views on work/life balance vary from country to country. One American woman said it requires extra effort in Europe to make sure she doesn’t “come off as being intimidating,” a concern she attributes in part to being tall. Another woman said that in the Middle East she has had to bring male colleagues to meetings to prove her credibility.
    Though women in particular have such difficulties, international assignments are not easy for anyone, and they may simply not be worth it for many executives. Members of both sexes have built gratifying careers while grounding themselves in a particular country or even city. However, if travel is undesirable, ambitious young executives should decide so early on. That way they can avoid getting trapped in an industry that doesn’t mesh with their geographic preferences and give themselves time to find ways other than travel to signal open-mindedness, sophistication, skill diversity, and willingness to go above and beyond. (Several executives noted that international experience is often viewed as a sign of those personal attributes.) “International experience can be helpful,” one executive observed, “but it’s just as important to have had exposure across the business lines. Both allow you to understand that not everybody thinks as you do.” Some executives even question the future of globe-hopping, noting that carbon costs, fuel costs, and security concerns may tighten future travel budgets.
    Collaborating with Your Partner
    Managing yourself, technology, networks, travel—it’s a tall order. Leaders with strong family lives spoke again and again of needing a shared vision of success for everyone at home—not just for themselves. Most of the executives in our sample have partners or spouses, and common goals hold those couples together. Their relationships offer both partners opportunities—for uninterrupted (or less interrupted) work, for adventurous travel, for intensive parenting, for political or community impact—that they might not otherwise have had.
    Leaders also emphasized the importance of complementary relationships. Many said how much they value their partners’ emotional intelligence, task focus, big-picture thinking, detail orientation—in short, whatever cognitive or behavioral skills balance out their own tendencies. And many of those we surveyed consider emotional support the biggest contribution their partners have made to their careers. Both men and women often mentioned that their partners believe in them or have urged them to take business risks or pursue job opportunities that were not immediately rewarding but led to longer-term satisfaction. They also look to their partners to be sounding boards and honest critics. One executive said that her partner asks “probing questions to challenge my thinking so I can be better prepared for an opposing viewpoint.”
    When we look at the survey data, we see other striking differences between the sexes. Fully 88% of the men are married, compared with 70% of the women. And 60% of the men have spouses who don’t work full-time outside the home, compared with only 10% of the women. The men have an average of 2.22 children; the women, 1.67.
    What Tomorrow’s Leaders Think
    The fact that the interviewees all agreed to take time from their hectic schedules to share their insights with students might introduce a selection effect. Busy leaders who choose to help students presumably value interpersonal relationships. Because they’re inclined to reflect on work and life, they’re probably also making deliberate choices in both realms—and they certainly have enough money to pay for support at home. All that may explain why many interviewees reported being basically happy despite their struggles and why few mentioned serious damage to their marriages or families due to career pressures. This sample is an elite group of people better positioned than most to achieve work/life balance. That they nevertheless consider it an impossible task suggests a sobering reality for the rest of us.
    Our student interviewers say, almost universally, that the leaders they spoke with dispensed valuable advice about how to maintain both a career and a family. One interviewer reported, “All acknowledged making sacrifices and concessions at times but emphasized the important role that supportive spouses and families played.” Still, many students are alarmed at how much leaders sacrifice at home and how little headway the business world has made in adapting to families’ needs.
    Male executives admitted that they don’t prioritize their families enough. And women are more likely than men to have forgone kids or marriage to avoid the pressures of combining work and family. One said, “Because I’m not a mother, I haven’t experienced the major driver of inequality: having children.” She added, “People assume that if you don’t have kids, then you either can’t have kids or else you’re a hard-driving bitch. So I haven’t had any negative career repercussions, but I’ve probably been judged personally.”
    Executives of both sexes consider the tension between work and family to be primarily a women’s problem, and the students find that discouraging. “Given that leadership positions in corporations around the world are still dominated by men,” one explained, “I fear that it will take many organizations much longer than it should to make accommodations for women to...effectively manage their careers and personal lives.”
    Students also resist leaders’ commonly held belief that you can’t compete in the global marketplace while leading a “balanced” life. When one executive argued that it’s impossible to have “a great family life, hobbies, and an amazing career” all at the same time, the student interviewing him initially thought, “That’s his perspective.” But after more conversations with leaders? “Every single executive confirmed this view in one way or another, and I came to believe that it is the reality of today’s business world.” It remains to be seen whether, and how, that reality can be changed for tomorrow.
    We can’t predict what the workplace or the family will look like later in this century, or how the two institutions will coexist. But we can assert three simple truths:
    Life happens. Even the most dedicated executive may suddenly have his or her priorities upended by a personal crisis—a heart attack, for instance, or a death in the family. As one pointed out, people tend to ignore work/life balance until “something is wrong.” But that kind of disregard is a choice, and not a wise one. Since when do smart executives assume that everything will work out just fine? If that approach makes no sense in the boardroom or on the factory floor, it makes no sense in one’s personal life.
    There are multiple routes to success. Some people plan their careers in detail; others grab whatever opportunity presents itself. Some stick with one company, building political capital and a deep knowledge of the organization’s culture and resources; others change employers frequently, relying on external contacts and a fresh perspective to achieve success. Similarly, at home different solutions work for different individuals and families. Some executives have a stay-at-home partner; others make trade-offs to enable both partners to work. The questions of child care, international postings, and smartphones at the dinner table don’t have “right” answers. But the questions need to be asked.
    No one can do it alone. Of the many paths to success, none can be walked alone. A support network is crucial both at and outside work—and members of that network must get their needs met too. In pursuit of rich professional and personal lives, men and women will surely continue to face tough decisions about where to concentrate their efforts. Our research suggests that earnestly trying to focus is what will see them through.

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    Do MOOCs Upend Traditional Business Education?

    The question keeps educators up at night: Do free, massive open online courses cannibalize enrollment at traditional schools? The results are finally in, part of a new study co-authored by Wharton professor Ezekiel J. Emanuel. Rather than poaching traditional students, MOOCs reach new audiences that business schools, at least, want to target.
    In this Knowledge@Wharton interview, Emanuel notes that “it doesn’t seem that MOOCs are undermining traditional business schools, but may be complementing them, enriching them and providing a great opportunity to [engage] other diverse student bodies.”
    An edited transcript of the conversation is below.
    Knowledge@Wharton: Please summarize your research findings for the study you co-authored,  “MOOCs Won’t Replace Business Schools – They’ll Diversify Them.”
    Ezekiel J. Emanuel: We were interested in how MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) might affect business education. Everyone is worried … that MOOCs might kill business schools — that free or cheap on-line education might take apart the bricks-and-mortar traditional high-end business schools like Wharton. We were wondering if that is likely to be the case.
    The surprising finding to us is that with nearly a million people registering for the Wharton core courses — like accounting and operations as well as some added courses like gamification and the business of sports — it turns out that MOOCs seem to attract people who are not in the usual MBA or executive MBA-kind of programs. [They attract] people from developing countries – there is a high proportion of them in MOOCs. They don’t [typically] [get] MBAs or executive MBAs. {MOOCs attract] first-born Americans, who tend to be highly educated but not terribly well employed.– They are a big proportion of the MOOCs. That was surprising to us, and yet they are not a big representative group in the MBA and executive MBA program.
    Again, very surprising to us, [there are] a lot of under-represented minorities, African-Americans, Hispanics and others taking these massive on-line open business courses — obviously a group that we’re trying to get, to increase their representation in the regular MBA and executive MBA programs.
    Getting these people, who are otherwise not in the mainstream of MBAs, into business education through MOOCs seems to be very surprising. It suggests that MOOCs are serving a different kind of clientele than regular MBAs and executive MBAs — those people who maybe are traditionally excluded or under-represented in our regular bricks and mortar classes. That might serve as a very enriched population to target for recruitment into MBA and executive MBA programs: smart, well educated, very interested people who otherwise we might not have contacted. In that regard, it doesn’t seem that MOOCs are undermining traditional business schools, but may be complimenting them, enriching them and providing a great opportunity to [engage] other diverse student bodies.
    Knowledge@Wharton: What are the key takeaways of your research?
    Emanuel: I think the massive on-line education courses that reach thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people on various platforms like Coursera and edX have been a real worry. [People are concerned] that they’re going to upset the higher education marketplace, maybe undermine traditional education. We were very interested in that.
    The three or four big takeaways from our study are first, these massive on-line open education courses or MOOCs seem to target very important groups that otherwise aren’t involved in the traditional MBA or executive MBA programs. Groups like students in developing countries, especially non-Bric countries. Students, first generation Americans, recent immigrants who are well educated from their home country but maybe under-employed in the United States, probably are using these MOOCs to gain additional skills and training, and to demonstrate that they are competitive for jobs here. And then another very surprising group – under-represented minorities were also very over represented in the MOOC program as compared to the MBA or the executive MBA program. Nearly 20% of the enrollees on the American side were under-represented minorities. And that’s a group that many business schools have been trying to target to enroll in traditional MBA and executive MBA programs.
    A second surprising finding was that women did not fare that well, especially women in developing countries, in these MOOCs. [The MOOCs] tend to be still dominated by well-educated men. There may be bigger barriers for women. Maybe they don’t have the educational preparation to take advantage of the business-style MOOCs. It may also be that they don’t have access to the Internet and necessities like 
    A third big takeaway: Many people lament the fact that there’s high enrollment numbers, but when you look at the number of people who complete the course and get certificates, it’s way down at 3% or, in the case of business schools, 5%. Even though that’s a small percentage, it’s important to remember that when you start out with very large numbers, hundreds of thousands, that small percentage is many, many thousands of people, many more people than you have in a regular MBA program.
    But more importantly, many of the students say, “Look, getting a certificate is not that important for me. I got a lot of information or a lot of knowledge, or what I wanted, without getting the certificate.” So, we need to think through how MOOCs are actually satisfying the educational needs of students, rather than figuring out that the end result is to get everyone a certificate.
    That may also have some important implications for the pricing model. Charging at the end for a certificate may not be the wisest move. Maybe another platform for charging — like a monthly subscription fee or some other [payment] program — would be a much wiser way of revenue generation.
    Knowledge@Wharton: What are some of the practical implications of your findings for educators?
    Emanuel: One of the important elements from our study of students who take the business massive on-line courses is that they are probably a very good target population for recruiting traditional MBAs.
    These are groups that business schools have wanted to enroll, students from developing countries, under-represented minorities, who traditionally are under-represented in business school. And so these massive on-line courses may allow targeting for recruitment that could be greatly enhanced. I’d say that the second important conclusion certainly for business schools is that they should look at MOOCs and these on-line course opportunities as opportunities, not as competitive, and shy away from them fearing that they’re somehow going to undermine what they do in a traditional classroom or an executive MBA program. At least initially, they don’t look competitive. They look like they might be synergistic.
    Exploring more deeply with the students who have taken the courses and what they think they’ve gotten out of them, how these courses can enhance or maybe bring them into the executive MBA, bring them into the traditional MBA programs — I think is where we should be looking.
    I think the fear and the loathing that often accompanies MOOCs among academic administrators is probably overplayed and we need to think of it much more as a positive opportunity to expand all the great resources we have educating students.
    Knowledge@Wharton: Do your conclusions apply to other groups besides those targeted in this research?
    Emanuel: This research focused on business schools and business education because we had this unique opportunity given the fact that Wharton was running these core preparatory courses in things like accounting and marketing and operations, as well as some of the additional, more expansive courses like gamification. But the conclusions probably extend to higher education much more broadly.
    Many higher education administrators have on the one hand thought they needed to experiment with massive on-line education. But on the other hand, they are kind of dreading it and fearing that it’s going to somehow undercut their finances and enrollments. What we suspect is that there’s actually an opportunity to use the on-line courses to augment what is happening in the traditional educational program. In fact, there are different audiences to use.
    The big challenge, which our study doesn’t solve, is the question of how do you make a business model that makes sense for MOOCs, because it does look like completing the program, completing a set of courses and paying for that is probably not the optimal approach.
    Knowledge@Wharton: Is there any story in the news that’s relevant to your research?
    Emanuel: There was an article in The Wall Street Journaljust the other week talking about how business schools might adapt or might fear massive on-line education, but it had no data. One of the things that we have tried to do is — instead of having a lot of speculation about massive on-line courses and what they’re going to do to higher education and who’s taking them — to actually collect data. The University of Pennsylvania has been probably the leader in offering massive on-line education courses both for business as well as in the non business areas: mythology or poetry or my own health policy course. We’ve also been pioneers in actually looking at who’s taking the courses, why they’re taking them. We’ve been among the first to document the high number of people who sign up, about a third of them actually take the course, begin the course as initiators. But only about 5%-10% of those who have started the course actually complete it.
    I like to say it’s rules of thirds. About a third of the people who sign up look at the first lecture. About a third of those who actually look at the first lecture complete the course. It’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but that’s a pretty good rule of thumb. We need to study each one of those.
    It’s easy to sign up when it’s free. Once you’ve started the course, we need to understand what you’re expecting from the course and why many of those people get what they seem to want out of the course without completing it. What is it that people are looking for in courses that doesn’t require completing every lecture or completing every assignment? Is it brushing up in their knowledge? Is it prepping them for their next program or their next job?
    I think a lot of additional research is going to be needed. At the University of Pennsylvania, rather than speculate, we have been delving into the data and trying to publish as much as we can to educate the conversation about massive on-line education programs.
    Knowledge@Wharton: What sets your research apart from other analyses of this topic?
    Emanuel: I think the University of Pennsylvania has been a leader in looking at people who take massive on-line courses and trying to understand who they are, why they’re taking the courses, which ones they complete, which ones they don’t complete, what socio-demographic groups they come from, what countries they come from.
    Getting hard data and looking at the hundreds of thousands and now millions of people who’ve taken these massive on-line courses is one of the things the University of Pennsylvania is leading in. Another thing we’re trying to evaluate is what exactly people get out of the courses and how they use that information. 
    A third thing we’re looking at is, in what ways do these massive on-line courses actually enhance education or maybe undermine education. [We are] trying to empirically evaluate their benefits in terms of actual education, knowledge retained, knowledge utilized…. That obviously takes more time, but we are committed … our group and many others here, to good quantitative research that will inform the discussion going forward about massive on-line courses.
    Knowledge@Wharton:  What will you look at next?
    Emanuel: We’re trying to understand more concretely what people are getting out of the course, what expectations they come into a course with, and when they stop, what have they gotten that allows them to stop. Or, are they stopping because it’s too much time or they don’t have the resources or there’s some other barrier that [stops them] though they would like to go to completion. So this idea of how exactly to tailor a massive on-line course to make it maximally beneficial for the groups that are taking it is a major issue, and something we know almost nothing about. So that will be a major focus.
    My office and my research group are especially interested in the global perspective. I run Penn Global, and part of what motivates us is, who are the people in foreign countries, especially developing countries, who are using massive on-line courses? How can we enhance our offerings to really enhance their education? That’s our mandate in our office. And we are going to continue to research that particular issue.

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    20140605_3

    When an Inability to Make Decisions Is Actually Fear of Conflict


    When a company’s planning and decision-making process involves a lot of meetings, discussions, committees, PowerPoint decks, emails, and announcements, but very few hard-and-fast agreements, I call that “decision spin”. Decisions bounce around the company, from group to group, up and down the hierarchy and across the matrix, their details and consequences changing as different stakeholders weigh in.  Often, the underlying problem isn’t an inability to make decisions – it’s a tendency to avoid conflict.

    Decision spin doesn’t prevent decisions from being made altogether.  But they often don’t stick, because people hesitate to express their disagreements during the discussion.  There is a lot of head nodding, smiling, and camaraderie — which is undermined later when participants don’t follow through on the decisions that they didn’t really buy into.
    Decision spin can be incredibly frustrating at all levels of the organization.  It also has a huge impact on cost, productivity, and customer service.  For example, when managers at one company I worked with couldn’t agree on the best way (or the few best ways) to configure their sales management software, they ended up with dozens of variations, which not only increased licensing fees, but also made it much more difficult to coordinate sales across divisional or geographic lines.  Similarly, when another company needed to reduce its expenses, the pain was spread like peanut butter across the different cost centers because the senior management team couldn’t reach a decision about where to focus — which meant that areas with growth potential lost as much muscle as those with less opportunity.
    From the outside, of course, this kind of behavior looks silly.  Why can’t managers — even at a very senior level — have open, honest and candid debates, work through their differences, and then reach agreement?  That’s what they’re paid to do.  Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, for two reasons:
    One is that managers are people and have a very human desire to be liked.  They want others to think well of them and not feel that they’re difficult to work with.  They want to get along and seem like team players.  So even when they disagree with something, they often hold back on expressing it too vociferously so as not to get into a fight. In fact, many managers I’ve talked to are afraid that disagreements might turn into uncomfortable battles that will damage or destabilize relationships. So they unconsciously pull their punches to keep things calm.
    The second reason for avoiding conflict is that many managers lack the skills to engage in it constructively. Perhaps because of the psychological issues described above, these managers don’t get a lot of practice at conflict, or they’ve never been trained in conflict management. As a result, they miss some of the basic principles and tools necessary to engage in positive conflict, such as defining the overarching goal to be achieved, identifying common ground, focusing on the problem instead of the person, objectively listing points of agreement and disagreement, listening more than talking, and shifting from debating to problem-solving.  While none of these principles are rocket science, they’re also not necessarily skills that everyone is born with.  And in the absence of these skills, it’s easy for business conflicts and disagreements to quickly escalate into interpersonal tensions — which triggers the avoidance syndrome described above, and a continuation of decision spin.
    Breaking this kind of cycle is not easy, particularly if it’s deeply engrained in the culture of your company, and in the emotional makeup of key senior leaders.  However, if you want to address it  — from wherever you are in the organization — here are two steps that you can take:
    First, convene your team, or a group of colleagues, and talk about whether decision spin is an issue.  If it is, discuss some real examples, how they played out, and the consequences for the company.  Consider whether these are isolated instances or part of a recurring pattern, and what the payoff might be to reduce some of the spin.  The key here is to avoid abstractions and build some awareness and alignment about the need to make improvements.
    Once you’re in agreement that decision spin is worth attacking, work with your team or your colleagues to develop some ground rules for constructive conflict.  These might include giving everyone two minutes to share his or her views; appointing someone to write down pros and cons of an issue; reminding everyone that disagreements are not personal attacks; setting a time limit for debates; or agreeing that decisions don’t get changed unilaterally.  Obviously, this is not the same as full-blown conflict management training, but it’s a way to get started — and if you experience some success, it could create the readiness for additional developmental work.
    Companies can’t afford to let decisions spin around with no resolution.  Shortening that cycle, however, requires managers to understand that conflict should be embraced, rather than avoided.

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    Astronomers Find a New Type of Planet: The "Mega-Earth"

    Kepler 10c
    Astronomers announced today that they have discovered a new type of planet - a rocky world weighing 17 times as much as Earth. Theorists believed such a world couldn't form because anything so hefty would grab hydrogen gas as it grew and become a Jupiter-like gas giant. This planet, though, is all solids and much bigger than previously discovered "super-Earths," making it a "mega-Earth."
    "We were very surprised when we realized what we had found," says astronomer Xavier Dumusque of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), who led the data analysis and made the discovery.
    "This is the Godzilla of Earths!" adds CfA researcher Dimitar Sasselov, director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative. "But unlike the movie monster, Kepler-10c has positive implications for life."
    The team's finding was presented today in a press conference at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS).
    The newfound mega-Earth, Kepler-10c, circles a sunlike star once every 45 days. It is located about 560 light-years from Earth in the constellation Draco. The system also hosts a 3-Earth-mass "lava world," Kepler-10b, in a remarkably fast, 20-hour orbit.
    Kepler-10c was originally spotted by NASA's Kepler spacecraft. Kepler finds planets using the transit method, looking for a star that dims when a planet passes in front of it. By measuring the amount of dimming, astronomers can calculate the planet's physical size or diameter. However, Kepler can't tell whether a planet is rocky or gassy.
    Kepler-10c was known to have a diameter of about 18,000 miles, 2.3 times as large as Earth. This suggested it fell into a category of planets known as mini-Neptunes, which have thick, gaseous envelopes.
    The team used the HARPS-North instrument on the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (TNG) in the Canary Islands to measure the mass of Kepler-10c. They found that it weighed 17 times as much as Earth - far more than expected. This showed that Kepler-10c must have a dense composition of rocks and other solids.
    "Kepler-10c didn't lose its atmosphere over time. It's massive enough to have held onto one if it ever had it," explains Dumusque. "It must have formed the way we see it now."
    Planet formation theories have a difficult time explaining how such a large, rocky world could develop. However, a new observational study suggests that it is not alone.
    Also presenting at AAS, CfA astronomer Lars A. Buchhave found a correlation between the period of a planet (how long it takes to orbit its star) and the size at which a planet transitions from rocky to gaseous. This suggests that more mega-Earths will be found as planet hunters extend their data to longer-period orbits.
    The discovery that Kepler-10c is a mega-Earth also has profound implications for the history of the universe and the possibility of life. The Kepler-10 system is about 11 billion years old, which means it formed less than 3 billion years after the Big Bang.
    The early universe contained only hydrogen and helium. Heavier elements needed to make rocky planets, like silicon and iron, had to be created in the first generations of stars. When those stars exploded, they scattered these crucial ingredients through space, which then could be incorporated into later generations of stars and planets.
    This process should have taken billions of years. However, Kepler-10c shows that the universe was able to form such huge rocks even during the time when heavy elements were scarce.
    "Finding Kepler-10c tells us that rocky planets could form much earlier than we thought. And if you can make rocks, you can make life," says Sasselov.
    This research implies that astronomers shouldn't rule out old stars when they search for Earth-like planets. And if old stars can host rocky Earths too, then we have a better chance of locating potentially habitable worlds in our cosmic neighborhood.
    The HARPS-N project is led by the Astronomical Observatory of the Geneva University (Switzerland). The National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF, Italy) has agreed to provide 80 observing nights per year over five years to use HARPS-N coupled to the TNG. The U.S. partners are the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Harvard University Origins of Life Initiative; and the UK partners are the Universities of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, and the Queens University of Belfast.
    Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists, organized into six research divisions, study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe.

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    20140604_1

    MOOCs Won’t Replace Business Schools — They’ll Diversify Them


    Over the past few years, business school administrators — like other university officials — have been losing sleep over Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs), worrying that these low-cost digital alternatives will cannibalize their business model.
    As elite business schools have started to offer their own courses through platforms like Coursera, commentators have pointed out that it’s now possible to cobble together an elite MBA for free. Others have argued that executive education programs are likely to be disrupted, as companies weigh the savings they could achieve by directing executives to MOOCs instead. These programs are a crucial source of revenue for business schools. At Wharton, nearly 20% of the annual revenue comes from executive education, while at Harvard Business School 26% does, and at IESE, it is nearly half.
    Are these fears well founded? The answer depends on the students participating in MOOCs. If they fit the profile of traditional MBA or executive education enrollees, then the threat to business schools is clear. Our data suggest that this is not the case. At least at present, MOOCs run by elite business schools do not appear to threaten existing programs, but seem to attract students for whom traditional business school offerings are out of reach.
    Though a few studies from HarvardMIT, and the University of Pennsylvania have examined MOOC participants, none to date have focused specifically on those taking business classes. We analyzed data on over 875,000 students enrolled in nine MOOCs offered by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. This includes a demographic survey with over 65,000 responses. The nine courses consisted of four that introduce the MBA core — Accounting, Finance, Marketing, and Operations Management — as well as Gamification and the Global Business of Sports. These business MOOCs do not appear to be cannibalizing existing programs but do seem to be reaching at least three new and highly sought-after student populations.
    moocfinal1
    According to the Wharton data, 78% of individuals who registered for an online business course came from outside of the United States. For comparison, Executive MBA programs in 2012 only attracted an average of 14% foreign students. Part-time or flexible MBA programs attracted 10%-32% foreign students, depending on the type of program. Even full-time two-year MBA programs, which attracted 45% foreign students, fall far short of the international reach of these business MOOCs.
    It is clear that none of the traditional business education programs can match the global reach of MOOCs, which is all the more impressive when you consider that they are operating at significantly larger scale.
    For business schools, then, MOOCs are a tremendous opportunity to expand into underserved markets. Nearly half of the international students enrolled in Wharton’s MOOCs hail from developing countries.
    moocfinal2
    Businessmen and women in developing countries have few sources for high quality management training; there are only five business schools in all of sub-Saharan Africa that have received AACSB, AMBA, or EQUIS accreditation –  all in South Africa. They are turning to MOOCs for accessible world-class training.
    Even among U.S. enrollees, there appear to be important differences between the population of MOOC students and traditional business school students. First, well-educated foreign-born U.S. residents appear to be overrepresented in business MOOCs. Overall, 35% of all U.S. individuals enrolled in the Wharton business MOOCs are foreign-born, with 54% having a graduate or professional degree. Only 12.9% of the U.S. population is foreign-born. Though MOOC enrollees are quite educated overall, the rate of advanced degrees for foreign-born U.S. enrollees exceeds that of other students.
    17%, or one in six, of the highly educated, foreign-born American enrollees in business MOOCs are unemployed, higher than the 13% unemployment rate for native-born American MOOC enrollees. Again, we seem to be seeing groups of individuals who cannot access elite executive education courses obtaining training through MOOCs. And for the unemployed, this may be a way to obtain credentials and skills to enhance job searches.
    The final group enrolling in business MOOCs is underrepresented minorities. In open, online Wharton business courses, 19% of American students are underrepresented minorities, compared to 11% of students enrolled in traditional MBA programs at nine of the top U.S. business schools. And in terms of absolute numbers, not just percentages, there are vastly more underrepresented minorities online. Across those nine top business schools, that 11% represents just 315 underrepresented minority MBA students, while 19% of the Wharton online business classes constitute 166,552 underrepresented minority students.
    moocfinal3
    Business schools are trying to attract these three groups — students from outside the United States, especially developing countries, foreign-born Americans, and under-represented American minorities. According to the 2012 Application Trends Survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council, these populations were among the most likely to receive special, targeted outreach by business schools. Open, online business courses are reaching them in droves. These MOOC courses might then provide a highly enriched recruiting pool for full-time and executive MBA courses.
    One area where business MOOCs are falling short is in attracting female students. While more than 40% of applicants to MBA programs are now women, only 32% of students enrolled in business MOOCs are women. That number drops to 23% in BRICS countries. Women in the developing world face even greater barriers to traditional business training than their male counterparts. Careful marketing aimed at these women might open the door for yet another large population of new business school students.
    If business schools want to take advantage of the MOOC opportunity to reach a more diverse group of students, they should seek to better understand those students’ motivations. For instance, lots of previous debate over MOOCs has focused on the relatively low rate of course completion. Indeed, only one out of every twelve students who enrolled in Wharton’s courses were still watching the lectures after eight weeks. Only 5% completed all of the course material and assessments (slightly higher than the 3% rate for non-business courses). And it turns out these “completers” tend to be disproportionately male, well educated, employed, and from OECD countries. Among American students, they tend to be white.
    On its face, this finding might seem to undermine MOOCs’ potential to enhance the diversity of business school offerings. But for many students, completing an online course is not the most important outcome. Just 43% of respondents to a pre-course survey administered to nine business and non-business courses at Penn indicated that receiving a certificate of accomplishment was “extremely important” or “very important” to them. Similarly, edX has found that only 27% rank earning a certificate of mastery as extremely important.
    Business schools must bear this in mind and move away from a business model of charging for certificates of completion. Instead, they must tailor offerings to the goals of these learners, whatever they may be. This could be as simple as moving to a monthly subscription or “freemium” model for access, or it could mean a more fundamental rethinking of what comprises a “course” online.
    It is clear from our research that, rather than cannibalizing business school course offerings and executive education, open, online business courses appear for now to be expanding the overall reach of business education. Even in their infancy, business MOOCs from Wharton are reaching groups of students most commonly targeted for outreach by business schools: working professionals outside the United States as well as foreign-born and underrepresented minorities in the United States.
    MOOCs are undoubtedly disrupting higher education. Business schools, like other university institutions, will need to strategically adapt to changing circumstances. But the MOOC disruption may not necessarily be the threat everyone is worried about. In fact, it looks more like an opportunity.

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    The Innovation Strategy Big Companies Should Pursue


    One sunny day in March, Gagan Biyani, the young and hugely ambitious CEO of Sprig—a company so new you probably have never heard of it—stepped into the main conference room at 2550 Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, California. Here, inside this nondescript Silicon Valley office, everything was about to change for Biyani, and his small company. He was here to pitch his business plan to Greylock Partners.
    The room is ordinary—a white board, table, some chairs—but through the eyes of a fledgling CEO, it becomes transformed. “Coming in, the first person I see is Reid, right?... And then David is over here; Aneel is there,” Biyani says breathlessly. “It was the biggest moment of my life.” Gathered here on that day were some of the most powerful venture capitalists in the valley: David Sze, Aneel Bhusri, Reid Hoffman and every other partner at Greylock. These are the guys who backed Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pandora, Dropbox, Airbnb—at a time when they were not much bigger than Sprig. For a striving founder of a startup, pitching your business plan here is a bit like being a rookie pitcher stepping onto the mound at Yankee Stadium—with Babe Ruth walking up to the plate.
    Out of thousands of business plans Greylock sees each year, only 20 or so make it to a full partnership meeting. Of those, only half get funded. Biyani was determined to show that Sprig was worthy. But more than just his shot at the big leagues, what Biyani got that day was an up-close look at how Greylock picks its bets.
    Here’s one surprising lesson Biyani learned: If the partners start arguing about your pitch, you’re probably doing pretty well. That means they are intrigued enough to be grinding the details. Of course, Biyani didn’t know this at the time, which made it particularly unnerving when Bhusri began drilling down into the fundamentals of his business plan. Biyani has wildly ambitious plans for Sprig: He wants it to be the Uber of food—delivering meals anywhere, anytime with the swipe of a phone. But this is an unproven concept in an unproven market. The risks are huge: Sprig will cost millions to build; it won’t make a penny for years; its logistics are a nightmare.
    Bhusri had questions. He is the co-founder and CEO of Workday (another big win for Greylock), and few people in the world know more about starting a tech company. He probed into the viability of Sprig’s concept, its market. Biyani had answers—he’d been preparing for months. But Bhusri didn’t let up, and going back and forth with one of the world’s top venture capitalists was intense. Then something unexpected happened. Sze—who once fought hard to get Greylock into Facebook—jumped in and started arguing the case for Sprig. For Biyani, this was a surreal moment. He watched as two of the biggest operators in Silicon Valley went toe-to-toe over his fledgling company.
    When his pitch was over, the young CEO walked out feeling strangely elated. “I have never seen so much intellectual horsepower in one room in my life,” he says. Shortly after, he got an offer: Greylock was in for $10 million.
    For a startup, getting Greylock’s backing means more than just an infusion of cash. “It’s like your company’s been blessed by the pope,” says Nirav Tolia, founder of Nextdoor, a social media site that got funded by Greylock two years ago. When that news got out, he was flooded with offers from other VCs wanting to get into the deal. “Firms will say, ‘I don’t even know what Nextdoor is, but I know David Sze is on the board, so I am going to write a check.’” When Glenn Kelman, CEO of real estate startup Redfin, got funding from Greylock, one partner asked him to write down his wish list of people for his board. Shortly after, his top pick—Austin Ligon, founder of Carmax—was in. “I felt like we could have gotten Barack Obama if I had listed him,” recalls Kelman. Peter Chernin, ex-chief operating officer of Fox, joined the board of Pandora because of Greylock’s backing. “They are good at choosing companies and good at building companies,” he explains.
    Hard to imagine now, but there was a time when Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pandora and Tumblr were ideas that, to many, seemed crazy. But where others might see lunacy, Greylock has seen opportunity. Take Airbnb. At the time Greylock invested in 2009, the idea seemed totally bizarre: Who would rent out his home to strangers online? Last year, 6 million people used the service to bunk up on the cheap, from Las Vegas to Kathmandu. The company, still private, was valued in January at close to $10 billion.
    “When the idea is big enough and edgy enough—it’s either madness or genius,” says Hoffman. “What you are trying to figure out is which one it is.”
    6.6_FE0123_Greylock_02Reid Hoffman, center, the founder of LinkedIn when his stock was listed 
    Heighten the Conflict
    “There is a lot of mythology about how firms decide,” says Sze one recent afternoon at his Sand Hill Road offices. The space is, for the most part, nondescript—tidy rooms and cubicles above a New Republic bank branch. There is something unusual installed on one wall: the shape of a slender tree painted black, branches blossoming outward. At the end of each branch is a small wall mount holding every cellphone and mobile device Sze has owned—from a brick-sized US West to the Apple Newton to the iPhone. It is a physical reminder of how quickly technology has transformed just about every part of our world over these past 20 years. For much of that time, Sze has been deep inside this revolution, finding the companies that are driving it.
    “A lot of these voting systems are consensus oriented, where you need to have 100 percent unification of the group,” observes Sze. Greylock’s system is different. A few years ago, the partners analyzed their pitch meetings, looking at ones that had led to their best deals and their worst. The deals fell into three categories: ones everyone hated, ones everyone loved and ones they fought over. It was this last group that yielded Greylock’s biggest wins. Facebook, Pandora, Airbnb were all hotly contested pitches. On Airbnb, Sze clashed with Hoffman, certain the idea would never work. Luckily for Greylock, Hoffman doesn’t back down easily. “We are looking for outliers and extremes,” explains Sze. “So we try to heighten this conflict.”
    There are few groups that know more about how tech startups fail or fly. Each of Greylock’s 11 investing partners has either founded a major startup or was early into one. Sze was one of the first employees at Excite, a pre-Google search engine. Other partners come out of eBay, Yahoo, Mozilla, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. “Our bet is that people who have been in these operating roles, that have lived it day in and day out, they are going to go, ‘Oh, I can see why this could be great,’” explains Sze.
    When Sze came to Greylock in 2000, the world was very different. There was no iPhone, no Twitter, no Facebook, and laptops felt as heavy as a block of cement. The firm was different too. It was well known on the East Coast, having made a name for itself investing in Teradyne, Neutrogena, Prime Computers—many of the big venture deals of the 1980s and 1990s. But on the West Coast, it wasn’t a real player.
    6.6_FE0123_Greylock_07The welcome party of the Web start-up Airbnb, in San Francisco, Aug.16, 2011 
    Greylock hired Sze to change that. A graduate of Yale University and Stanford Business School, he had recently left Excite and was just building his reputation in the VC world. Back then, no one in Silicon Valley took Greylock that seriously, and if you are not in the inner ring, you don’t get first crack at the best companies. “It wouldn’t have occurred to me to go pitch Greylock,” recalls Hoffman, who was looking for investors for LinkedIn in 2004. Coming out of PayPal, Hoffman had his pick of investors, but a conversation with Sze sold him. The young VC talked about LinkedIn in a way that was completely different from what the other investors were seeing. He was deeply interested in the mechanics of the company—whom it should hire, how it could attract users, even what the site should look like. It was more like talking to a fellow entrepreneur than to an investor, Hoffman says. “You want to pick people you want to be in the foxhole with,” he explains. Hoffman decided to become a partner at Greylock after LinkedIn went public.
    And then along came Facebook. The first time its pitch book came Sze’s way—in 2005—he blew it off. “I had a chance to look at it”—when it was valued at $100 million—“and turned it down because I was working on closing another deal,” he recalls. A year later, Facebook’s valuation jumped to $550 million. When Mark Zuckerberg came around for his next round of funding, Sze was determined to get in the door.
    In the history of the firm, few deals have been as contentious as this Facebook meeting. What made the partners so tense was the huge price tag for a business that was still unproven and had plenty of competition—MySpace, Friendster, Tickle. It wasn’t at all clear Facebook would emerge the winner. But Sze seized the moment and eloquently articulated something many of his partners were having trouble seeing. He described in detail how social media would build on itself, how it would spread beyond colleges, how people craved ways to connect.
    The partners agreed to the deal and wrote one of the biggest checks in the partnership’s history—$10 million. Jim Breyer, the partner at Accel who funded Facebook’s earlier venture round, remembers one of the partners calling him later: “He said, I just want to do a double-check: Are we getting a fair deal?”
    As of the end of May, Facebook was worth around $160 billion.
    6.6_FE0123_Greylock_06
    In Stealth Mode
    “Last night I got about three and a half hours of sleep,” says Hoffman over breakfast at the Rosewood Hotel in Menlo Park. In front of him, a huge wall of windows is serving up a wide view of Silicon Valley—a brown, shrubby stretch clear out to the Santa Cruz Mountains. In these parts, Hoffman is a legend. Entrepreneurs see him as a champion of striving start-ups. In pitch meetings he is known for putting jittery founders at ease. One recalls Hoffman joking with him about their shared passion for Settlers of Catan—a board game wildly popular with the geek set. Once, on his personal website devoted to boosting entrepreneurs, he posted his original LinkedIn pitch deck, annotated with notes on what he got wrong in 2004 and how he would change his pitch now.
    On this particular morning, Hoffman has a lot on his calendar. In addition to his role at Greylock, he has remained chairman at LinkedIn, and he’s about to fly to Korea to meet with Samsung to discuss the LinkedIn app for its phones. But before he leaves, Hoffman needs to lock down unfinished Greylock business. For the past three days, he has been chasing a startup that has been operating “in stealth mode”—that’s Silicon Valley–speak for not telling anyone what you are up to. But he got all the details over breakfast with one of the co-founders, and he is certain it’s something to jump on. Hoffman quickly convened a pitch meeting. That went well, but now he is pushing Greylock to move fast to figure out whether it should make an offer. In this world, the best startups don’t stay available for long. Two of Greylock’s rival venture firms had already lobbed in offers.
    The competition among top VCs is fiercer than ever. Greylock’s top rivals—Sequoia, Accel, Benchmark, Andreesen Horowitz—vie with it on just about every big deal. Thanks in part to the colossal valuations of companies like Twitter and Facebook, investors are flooding the Valley with capital, and top venture firms have raised huge new funds. Andreesen Horowitz recently launched a $1.5 billion fund. Last fall, Greylock raised $1 billion; it now has $2.6 billion under management. There is so much capital available that top startups often get multiple offers—Sprig, for example, had three besides Greylock’s. So perhaps the question here is not how do VCs choose startups but, rather, how do entrepreneurs choose investors.
    “I don’t know if you know my history with VCs, but it’s not entirely friendly,” says Ev Williams, co-founder of Twitter, whose backers famously ousted him. This winter, Williams went looking for investors for his new company, Medium. He had his pick of investors. Who wouldn’t fund the next Twitter? He didn’t really need the money, though—thanks to the Twitter IPO, he is worth more than $2 billion. This time, he was looking for something less tangible. “To me, character was one of the very most important things,” he says. Before deciding on his investors, he called around to other entrepreneurs to get reference checks on VCs. One call had particular impact. Williams spoke to Kevin Rose, a co-founder of Digg. Greylock had been one of its venture firms. Williams wanted to know one thing: How had David Sze—the partner who got Greylock in on the deal—treated the foundering CEO as his company was unraveling? That is, of course, when you see a VC’s real mettle—when he’s about to lose all his money. “The thing I heard, time after time, was David was always trying to do the right thing for the entrepreneur,” says Williams. “People don’t universally say that about all investors.”
    In January, Williams announced that Greylock would be Medium’s lead investor. In the strange calculus and karma of Silicon Valley, if Medium comes anywhere close to Twitter’s success, Greylock’s investment in Digg still might pay off.
    We All Need Good Poaching
    “Hey Josh, when you were at Twitter is this how you guys used to do it?”
    It is a bright spring morning in San Francisco, and Josh Elman, a young partner at Greylock, is sitting in a room full of product engineers, designers and managers at Nextdoor—a startup that aims to do for neighbors what LinkedIn did for job seekers. The wide-open loft space has huge windows. Covering one wall is an essay titled “Our Manifesto.” Coders click away at their computers—the dress code, flannel shirts or ironic T-shirts, Buddy Holly glasses. One guy has a Mohawk.
    “Wait, I think it’s more helpful if we look at Facebook,” Elman clicks at his laptop. Dressed in an orange T-shirt with kittens printed across the front, jeans and sneakers Elman, 38, looks as if he could be one of the engineers or managers listening to him. And not so long ago he was. Elman used to be Twitter’s growth hacker—Silicon Valley-speak for the guy who gets people to use your site. Before that he launched Facebook Connect, and before that he was one of the first product managers at LinkedIn. There are few people in the world who know as much about building a social media platform. And today he’s here to show Nextdoor how he did it, so they can do it again.
    Greylock has big hopes for Nextdoor. Greylock made a $15 million investment a little over a year ago, and since then the company has been moving fast. Nextdoor is part of a wave of second-generation social media platforms building on the foundations that Facebook and LinkedIn laid down. It aims to capture local markets—one of the hot sectors in consumer technology right now. Say your dog is lost, or you are having a tag sale; instead of posting fliers all over the neighborhood, you can post on Nextdoor. It has no revenues, nor any plan for how to generate them, but Nextdoor has enough cash to survive for years. Six months after its Greylock round, Nextdoor raised another $60 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and other investors.
    Yet for all its promise and funding, it’s important to remember that nothing is ever certain in the startup world. There are always unexpected twists: In May, for instance, Nextdoor’s Tolia was charged with a felony hit-and-run. He allegedly made a lane change on the highway that caused another car to hit the median; the two vehicles did not collide. He is pleading not guilty.
    For Nextdoor to succeed it must keep to its mission: growing fast. Right now, it has a huge team focusing on getting as many people to use the site as quickly as possible. At the moment, the company is in 35,000 neighborhoods across the country (it does not disclose total users). That’s a start, but to be a big player in social media, it will need a lot more. Facebook now has over a billion users a month.
    “OK, so when I was doing this at Facebook, we put a lot of buttons here,” Elman points to his screen. “I’m looking now, and I see they’ve made it cleaner. I like it.”
    Few VCs will go deep into the trenches the way Greylock does. Once the pomp of the pitch is over and the money is in the bank, the real hard work of building a company begins. And this is where Greylock gives its companies a huge edge. Because they used to be entrepreneurs too, the partners know what it takes to go from scrappy idea to real business. “What would you pay to have someone in the room who has had to deal with all the situations you are dealing with and has done that at two of the most successful Internet companies of all time?” asks Tolia. At one point, Nextdoor had a disastrous episode when it tried out a new feature on its site and its users hated it. Sze walked the team through a similar problem Facebook experienced when some of its new features riled users. Recently, when one of Nextdoor’s managers announced he was leaving, Sze helped persuade him to stay.
    “When things aren’t going your way, you really appreciate their clout,” says Kelman. When he was looking for a chief financial officer, he was too small to get much attention from his recruiting firm. One of the Greylock partners called on his behalf, and a short time later, Redfin hired Chris Nielsen, the former CFO of Zappos.
    Recruiting is a particular point of emphasis for Greylock. The competition for talent in Silicon Valley right now is brutal. There are not enough coders and engineers in the U.S. to meet the huge demand at tech companies. For startups, this is particularly tough because bigger tech companies can pay enormous salaries. One entrepreneur trying to poach an engineer from one big tech company was stunned to find out the guy was making over $1 million a year. Right now, there are 40 openings for top executives across Greylock’s portfolio and dozens more for engineers and coders.
    To help its companies find top talent, Greylock has built an in-house recruiting team. In 2011 it hired Jeff Markowitz and Dan Portillo—two top tech recruiters with huge networks in the valley. They have been able to draw big names to Greylock’s startups. Some recent coups: Tom Reilly, who sold his company to Hewlett-Packard as CEO of Cloudera; Dan Clancy, a top Google engineer, as Nextdoor’s engineering chief; Brent Ayrey, vice president of product innovation at Netflix, to run innovation at Creative Live. To get midlevel engineers and designers, Greylock trains its entrepreneurs to recruit for themselves. One guide provides tips such as “the 100 rule”—the number of people you need to talk to in order to get 15 viable candidates.
    6.6_FE0123_Greylock_08
    Fly Against the Swarm
    It’s late in the afternoon at Hatch Today, an incubator in San Francisco. Here are the front-line trenches of the startup world. Scattered across a cramped, crowded space are rows and rows of small tables. Clusters of people, young and old, squeeze around them, busily clicking away at their laptops. Some have planted banners—HashGo, WeblishPal, Swapdom—names of companies we might never know. No one seems to notice the quiet guy seated under a banner that reads Sprig—even though he is probably the most powerful person in the room. Simon Rothman, one of Greylock’s partners, has been here all day, helping Sprig figure out how to put the firm’s $10 million to work.
    “This is a business that has pace, it’s moving fast. This is one of the rare cases like Uber or Lyft that resonates,” explains Rothman, who used to run eBay Motors. If all goes well, it won’t be long before Sprig leaves its incubator and sets up shop in its own digs. Here Greylock can help too. It has a real estate agent who helps its companies find space. But whether it will be Greylock’s next big win is the billion-dollar question.
    “Everyone can tell you why something is going to fail,” says Sze. “The real trick is, can you create the conviction on why something might succeed?”

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    On the Origins of Money: Darwin and the Evolution of Cryptocurrency


    evolution
    Charles Darwin first published his theory of natural selection in his book On the Origin of Species in 1859. The result of over 30 years of research, Darwin delivered to the world a new understanding of how modern species came to be, evolving over generations.
    The son of a wealthy English family, Darwin was not a man in need of money. Nonetheless, for On the Origin of Species and his other publications, Darwin received royalties that were most likely paid in British Sterling.
    Still in existence, the British Pound has origins dating back as far as 750 A.D. making it the world’s longest-surviving active currency. At the time, I wonder if Darwin recognized that the very currency by which he was being compensated would one day be subject to his very theory of natural selection?
    It is a realization that would become far more evident 150 years later with the advent of block chain technology.
    For the fortunate minority throughout history, as with Darwin, a given currency is not subject to question. It serves as the accepted means of exchange and is recognized as such from the time one is old enough to understand value.
    In this way, currencies are not understood as subject to the laws of natural selection. For the less fortunate majority throughout history, and likely for more fortunate generations to come, this may not be the case.

    Natural Selection

    Natural Selection can be defined as the process by which specific traits become more or less common in a population over time and it serves as the foundation for the theory of evolution. It is the result of the relative success or failure of these traits competing in a given environment.
    Put more simply, it embodies the concept of “survival of the fittest”. Darwin famously defended his theory by describing the various species of finches observed on the Galapagos Islands.
    finch
    He noted 13 separate species of finch within the ecosystem, each with its own unique food supply. The key differentiating trait between each species was the unique structure and size of beak. Darwin argued that each specie of finch had evolved as the result of varied food supply, where each beak was the best suited to each specific food source available within their environment.
    The law of natural selection is most often observed in nature but can also be applied outside of this realm. Corporations are forced to continuously compete and evolve to remain relevant and profitable. Those corporations with the necessary traits such as the ability to innovate, adapt and comply with regulations succeed, while many more go extinct.
    Whatever the environment may be, specific traits prove advantageous while others do not. It is in understanding which traits provide advantage and which do not that once can better understand how the fittest survived, and furthermore predict who the fittest will be in the future.

    The Traditional Traits of Money

    Before we can understand how natural selection applies to currencies, we must first define the traditional traits that have been used to characterize them. For the purposes of keeping in line with the language of Darwin, we will refer to what is traditionally stated as a property of money as a trait.
    Table 1.0 displays the commonly accepted traits that characterize money as well as an estimated rating as to the ability of each specific medium, in this case gold and fiat currencies, to fulfil these traits within the modern environment on a scale of High, Medium, and Low.
    While the ratings of these traits are subject to debate, the table below provides a relatively accurate representation.
    traits of money
    Gold has long served as an established means of exchange as well as a commodity. Gold coins were adopted by King Croesus around 550 BC. King Croesus was no fool. He selected gold as it fulfilled many of the necessary traits to act as money.
    Relative to the era, it was highly fungible, non-consumable, durable and scarce. These traits were strong enough to become a leading form of money simply because there was nothing else around that fulfilled these requirements as well.
    But why did the king not select stones or feathers?  The answer is that these forms failed to be fungible, highly divisible, secure, and scarce.
    The fact that gold has remained a valued commodity for thousands of years speaks to the importance of these specific traits. In fact, the combination of traits possessed by gold and other precious metals eventually provided the foundation for the next evolution in money, fiat currency.
    In money’s next evolution of specie, fiat currency fulfilled several critical traits to an even greater degree than gold. Paper was more portable and could be more easily transacted. That is not to say it was entirely superior. In many cases fiat currencies lacked durability, and as we will see, would eventually become less and less scarce. In fact, many fiat currencies have failed due to inflation; a inevitable result of the inability of the currency to remain scarce.
    dollar FEC
    As a specie of currency, fiat currencies were not perfect but nonetheless flourished in the last millennia. But how can this be? Are the benefits of better fungibility and transportability really that significant as to reign as the dominant specie of currency for so long?
    In reality, much of the credit for their rise, survival and success is due to the existence of another less recognized trait. The trait of centralized sovereignty lead to the creation and issuance of hundreds of new forms of money. Table 2.0 displays the degree to which gold and fiat currencies fulfill the traditionally recognized traits of money in addition to the newly recognized trait of sovereignty.
    As of May 2014, there were 193 recognized fiat currencies in circulation regularly competing in global markets.
    Each of these currencies belong to the same specie, fiat. It is important to recognize that dollars, euros and yen were not mined or extracted from the environment. These are man-made; designed and issued by centralized authorities.
    For centuries, the specie of fiat currency has thrived as a result of this fact and that these forms of money could be used to pay taxes. In the course of its existence fiat currency has evolved from a hybrid, by which the currency has been backed by a valued commodity such as gold, to a self-standing form of money with no physical backing.
    During this period of time, the most notable trait to have changed for the world’s most widely recognized fiat standard, the US dollar, has been scarcity. Once backed by gold, the dollar was severed from the commodity in 1971 and as a result its scarcity is no longer a trait that the specie of fiat currency fulfills.
    In fact, to the surprise of many, there no longer remains a single fiat currency in existence that is backed by gold. This evolution, or what could possibly be regarded as de-evolution, of fiat currency as a specie may have significant implications on its ability to compete and survive in an environment with dynamically changing conditions.
    table 2

    Cryptocurrency and the New Traits of Money

    The invention of the block chain has given rise to a new specie of currency, that of cryptocurrency.
    The arrival of cryptography based currencies has enabled key new traits previously not possible with traditional forms of money. Furthermore, the realization of such traits will likely have a dramatic impact on the environment in which these currencies compete.
    Table 3.0 now includes the specie of cryptocurrency when rated against the traditional and newly realized traits of money. The two newly-realized traits include the following:
    1. Decentralized: Defined as the delegation of power from a central authority to regional and local authorities. With regards to block chain-based cryptocurrencies decentralization implies a trust-less and distributed network. This trait is a dramatically new innovation as a direct result of the invention of the blockchain and was impossible with any other prior form of money.
    2. Smart (Programmable): The trait of smart currency indicates the capability to fulfill a growing array of functions still yet to be determined. Existing innovations in the cryptocurrency space foreshadow the potential that currencies could be designed as such to not only act as currencies but represent other forms of value as well.
    table 3

    Survival and Extinction

    Extinction can most simply be described as the failure of a specie to compete in an environment to such at a degree that it eventually ceases to exist. The inability to compete itself may be the result of two primary causes; increased competition from superior species or a dramatic change in environment.
    For the dinosaurs, particularly land-based species, the traits of size and strength were essential to their rise to prominence. Although these traits enabled them to thrive for centuries they did not allow them to compete as a specie forever.
    The advantages they enjoyed at the time also meant that they required large consistent amounts resources, most particularly food and oxygen. As a result, at the end of the Cretaceous Period many specie were unable to survive what is widely believed to have been the arrival of a earth-shaking comet known as the K-T Event.
    Evidence suggests that a large comet impacted earth and darkened the sky with dust and ash. The blocking of the sun starved sun-dependent plant life and resulted in a sharp reduction to the supply of oxygen.
    The Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences estimates that this event killed off 75% of species. The traits that had once helped dinosaurs flourish now proved to be the traits that left them susceptible to extinction.
    Meanwhile, studies show that the freshwater organisms of the time only lost 10% of their species. The commonly accepted explanation is that the freshwater species were already conditioned to endure annual winter freezes where their oxygen supplies were diminished.
    Their relatively limited dependence on oxygen insulated them from the effects of changes to their environment allowing them to survive. Dramatic changes to the conditions brought on by the K-T Event changed the paradigm and a new combination of traits became necessary to ensure competitiveness and survival. Meanwhile, the majority of land-based species disappeared forever, their greatest strengths having become their greatest weaknesses.
    Currency, like the dinosaurs, has already shown us that it is not always the immediately dominant specie that will survive the test of time. In an era that has seen hundreds of highly evolved fiat currencies go extinct, gold endures.
    Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection originated to provide an evidence based explanation of the past. We now leverage this theory to look forward and understand its implications on the future of currency. Given the ever-changing conditions of the future, will gold and fiat currencies continue to compete or go the way of the dinosaur?

    The New Paradigm – Currency Competition

    According to a study of 775 fiat currencies by DollarDaze.org the average life expectancy of a fiat currency is 27 years. The study also indicated the most common causes of any given currencies extinction are hyperinflation, monetary reform, war and independence.
    With fiat currencies being so susceptible to failure, gold has long served as an alternative as it is more scarce and durable. In terms of scarcity, fiat currencies can be printed and inflated at the will of their authorities.
    With regards to durability, the US Federal Reserve estimates the longest average lifespan of any paper bill is 15 years ($100 bill) with the shortest lifespan being 3.7 years ($50 bill). As a result, gold has maintained a relatively high value in the era of fiat currency and remains the primary alternative store of value when faith in fiat currencies waiver. In this way, these stores of value have primarily competed based upon only two of the traits of money; scarcity and durability.
    Fiat currencies and commodities now enter a new paradigm where money can exist that possesses even more dynamic traits. Gold and fiat currencies are not capable of possessing the newly inherent traits that would make them decentralized or smart (programmable).
    Cryptocurrency has arrived adding heightened competition. To date, bitcoin is the most widely recognized cryptocurrency, but it is not alone. In the 5 years that cryptocurrencies have existed over 200 have been established and the list is growing.
    Furthermore, the currencies themselves are in a state of hyper-evolution as they continue to take on a varied array of distinctive traits that set them apart from one another within their own competitive ecosystem.
    Equally as threatening to traditional forms of money, the conditions of the environment in which currencies compete is in a constant state of change. Undertones of growing distrust in centralized entities encourage populations to considered alternatives stores of value.
    Sovereignty, once a trait that was necessary for the survival of a currency, may now be falling out of favor. Centralized failures such as the US financial crisis of 2008 or hyper-inflated fiat currencies such as Zimbabwe dollars or Argentinian pesos compound these sentiments. The most profound of these conditions is the growing awareness throughout the world that decentralized trust is possible.
    It is interesting to imagine what Charles Darwin would make of the current state of currency. History would have us believe that the existence and survival of any entity, be it plant, animal, corporation, or currency is the subject to the laws of natural selection.
    With this understanding, it is hard to imagine Darwin contesting the opinion that cryptocurrency will prove a competitive force against traditional specie of money.
    Ultimately, the real question may not be whether or not Darwin would predict the survival of cryptocurrency, rather would he be willing exchange those British Sterling pounds for it?

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    Why Tech’s Best Minds Are Very Worried About the Internet of Things

    Illustration: Pat Kinsella
    Illustration: Pat Kinsella
    The Internet of Things is coming. And the tech cognoscenti aren’t sure that’s a good thing.
    For years, the prospect of an online world that extends beyond computers, phones, and tablets and into wearables, thermostats, and other devices has generated plenty of excitement and activity. But now, some of the brightest tech minds are expressing some doubts about the potential impact on everything from security and privacy to human dignity and social inequality.
    That’s the conclusion of a new survey from the Pew Research Center. For ten years, the Washington, D.C. think tank has surveyed thousands of technology experts–like founding father Vint Cerf and Microsoft social media scholar danah boyd–about the future of the Internet. But while previous editions have mostly expressed optimism, this year people started expressing more concern. “We had a lot of warnings, a lot of people pushing back,” says Janna Anderson, co-author of the report.
    ‘We had a lot of warnings, a lot of people pushing back.’

    The Internet of Broken Things

    The 1,606 respondents said they saw many potential benefits to the Internet of Things. New voice- and gesture-based interfaces could make computers easier to use. Medical devices and health monitoring services could help prevent and treat diseases. Environmental sensors could detect pollution. Salesforce.com chief scientist JP Rangaswami said that improved logistics and planning systems could reduce waste.
    But most of the experts warned of downsides as well. Security was one of the most immediate concerns. “Most of the devices exposed on the internet will be vulnerable,” wrote Jerry Michalski, founder of the think tank REX. “They will also be prone to unintended consequences: they will do things nobody designed for beforehand, most of which will be undesirable.”
    We’ve already seen security camera DVRs hacked to mine bitcoins as well as a worm that targets internet connected devices like home routers. As more devices come online, we can expect to see an increase in this kind of attack.
    Beyond security concerns, there’s the threat of building a world that may be too complex for our own good. If you think error messages and applications crashes are a problem now, just wait until the web is embedded in everything from your car to your sneakers. Like the VCR that forever blinks 12:00, many of the technologies built into the devices of the future may never be used properly. “We will live in a world where many things won’t work and nobody will know how to fix them,” wrote Howard Rheingold.

    So Many Left Behind

    That complexity could also leave many people behind. Developing nations–precisely the ones that could most benefit from IoT’s environmental benefits–will be least able to afford them, says Miguel Alcaine, an International Telecommunication Union area representative for Central America. In an interview, Pew’s Internet & American Life Project director Lee Raine pointed out that the IoT could lead to a much larger digital divide, one in which those who cannot or choose not to participate are shut out entirely from many daily activities. What happens when you need a particular device to pay for items at your local convenience store?
    Meanwhile, those that do partake in the IoT may find it dehumanizing, especially in the workplace. We’ve already seen some companies explore the possibility of monitoring their employees through wearables. “The danger will be in loss of privacy and a reduction of people into numbers: the dark side of the quantified self,” wrote Andrew Chen, a computer information systems professor of at Minnesota State University. Peter R. Jacoby, an English professor at San Diego Mesa College, summed up this line of thought bluntly: “By 2025, we will have long ago give up our privacy. The Internet of Things will demand–and we will give willingly–our souls.”

    The Counterargument

    Not everyone thinks this loss of privacy is inevitable. Harvard fellow David “Doc” Searls argues that we needn’t sacrifice our privacy in order to enjoy the advantages of connected devices. There’s no reason that all devices must connect to the internet as opposed to private networks. And even those that are connected to the public internet could use encryption to talk to private servers, protecting your data from large companies.
    “People’s Clouds of Things can be as personal and private as their houses (and, when encrypted, even more so),” he wrote. “They can also be far more social than any ‘social network’ because they won’t involve centralized control of the kind that Facebook, Google, and Twitter provide.”
    Searls imagines a world with more fine-tuned control over not just privacy, but the terms of service that govern the products we consume today. We’ve already seen some progress towards such a vision with open-source Internet of Things projects such as Spark, Tessel, Skynet and Nodered. The question is whether these types of platforms can be used to build truly open consumer products, and, if so, whether anyone will want to use them.

    The Hypometer

    It’s also possible that the Internet of Things will fail to take off in any meaningful way. “The Internet of Things has been in the red zone of the hypometer for over a decade now,” Bill St. Arnaud, a self-employed green internet consultant wrote. “Yes, there will be many niche applications, but it will not be the next big thing, as many pundits predict.”
    An unnamed co-founder of a consultancy with practices in internet technology and biomedical engineering agreed. “Inter-networked wearables will remain a toy for the wealthy,” he wrote. He thinks wearables and other connected devices will be useful for the military, hospitals, prisons and other niche operations, but he doesn’t expect them to be particularly life-changing.
    Justin Reich, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, hedged his bets. “I’m not sure that moving computers from people’s pockets (smartphones) to people’s hands or face will have the same level of impact that the smartphone has had,” he wrote. “But things will trend in a similar direction. Everything that you love and hate about smartphones will be more so.”

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    Strategic principles for competing in the digital age


    Digitization is rewriting the rules of competition, with incumbent companies most at risk of being left behind. Here are six critical decisions CEOs must make to address the strategic challenge posed by the digital revolution.

    The board of a large European insurer was pressing management for answers. A company known mostly for its online channel had begun to undercut premiums in a number of markets and was doing so without agents, building on its dazzling brand reputation online and using new technologies to engage buyers. Some of the insurer’s senior managers were sure the threat would abate. Others pointed to serious downtrends in policy renewals among younger customers avidly using new web-based price-comparison tools. The board decided that the company needed to quicken its digital pace.
    For many leaders, this story may sound familiar, harkening back to the scary days, 15 years ago, when they encountered the first wave of Internet competitors. Many incumbents responded effectively to these threats, some of which in any event dissipated with the dot-com crash. Today’s challenge is different. Robust attackers are scaling up with incredible speed, inserting themselves artfully between you and your customers and zeroing in on lucrative value-chain segments.
    The digital technologies underlying these competitive thrusts may not be new, but they are being used to new effect. Staggering amounts of information are accessible as never before—from proprietary big data to new public sources of open data. Analytical and processing capabilities have made similar leaps with algorithms scattering intelligence across digital networks, themselves often lodged in the cloud. Smart mobile devices make that information and computing power accessible to users around the world.
    As these technologies gain momentum, they are profoundly changing the strategic context: altering the structure of competition, the conduct of business, and, ultimately, performance across industries. One banking CEO, for instance, says the industry is in the midst of a transition that occurs once every 100 years. To stay ahead of the unfolding trends and disruptions, leaders across industries will need to challenge their assumptions and pressure-test their strategies.

    Opportunities and threats

    Digitization often lowers entry barriers, causing long-established boundaries between sectors to tumble. At the same time, the “plug and play” nature of digital assets causes value chains to disaggregate, creating openings for focused, fast-moving competitors. New market entrants often scale up rapidly at lower cost than legacy players can, and returns may grow rapidly as more customers join the network.1
    Digital capabilities increasingly will determine which companies create or lose value. Those shifts take place in the context of industry evolution, which isn’t monolithic but can follow a well-worn path: new trends emerge and disruptive entrants appear, their products and services embraced by early adopters (exhibit). Advanced incumbents then begin to adjust to these changes, accelerating the rate of customer adoption until the industry’s level of digitization—among companies but, perhaps more critically, among consumers as well—reaches a tipping point. Eventually, what was once radical is normal, and unprepared incumbents run the risk of becoming the next Blockbuster. Others, which have successfully built new capabilities (as Burberry did in retailing), become powerful digital players. (See the accompanying article, “The seven habits of highly effective digital enterprises.”) The opportunities for the leaders include:
    • Enhancing interactions among customers, suppliers, stakeholders, and employees. For many transactions, consumers and businesses increasingly prefer digital channels, which make content universally accessible by mixing media (graphics and video, for example), tailoring messages for context (providing location or demographic information), and adding social connectivity (allowing communities to build around themes and needs, as well as ideas shared among friends). These channels lower the cost of transactions and record them transparently, which can help in resolving disputes.
    • Improving management decisions as algorithms crunch big data from social technologies or the Internet of Things. Better decision making helps improve performance across business functions—for example, providing for finer marketing allocations (down to the level of individual consumers) or mitigating operational risks by sensing wear and tear on equipment.
    • Enabling new business or operating models, such as peer-to-peer product innovation or customer service. China’s Xiaomi crowdsources features of its new mobile phones rather than investing heavily in R&D, and Telstra crowdsources customer service, so that users support each other to resolve problems without charge. New business or operating models can also disintermediate existing customer–supplier relations—for example, when board-game developers or one-person shops manufacture products using 3-D printers and sell directly to Amazon.
    The upshot is that digitization will change industry landscapes as it gives life to new sets of competitors. Some players may consider your capabilities a threat even before you have identified them as competitors. Indeed, the forces at work today will bring immediate challenges, opportunities—or both—to literally all digitally connected businesses.

    Seven forces at work

    Our research and experience with leading companies point to seven trends that could redefine competition.
    1. New pressure on prices and margins
    Digital technologies create near-perfect transparency, making it easy to compare prices, service levels, and product performance: consumers can switch among digital retailers, brands, and services with just a few clicks or finger swipes. This dynamic can commoditize products and services as consumers demand comparable features and simple interactions. Some banks, for instance, now find that simplifying products for easy purchase on mobile phones inadvertently contributes to a convergence between their offerings and those of competitors that are also pursuing mobile-friendly simplicity.
    Third parties have jumped into this fray, disintermediating relationships between companies and their customers. The rise of price-comparison sites that aggregate information across vendors and allow consumers to compare prices and service offerings easily is a testament to this trend. In Europe, chain retailers, which traditionally dominate fast-moving consumer goods, have seen their revenues fall as customers flock to discounters after comparing prices even for staples like milk and bread. In South Korea, online aggregator OK Cashbag has inserted itself into the consumer’s shopping behavior through a mobile app that pools product promotions and loyalty points for easy use across more than 50,000 merchants.
    These dynamics create downward pressure on returns across consumer-facing industries, and the disruptive currents are now rippling out to B2B businesses.
    2. Competitors emerge from unexpected places
    Digital dynamics often undermine barriers to entry and long-standing sources of product differentiation. Web-based service providers in telecommunications or insurance, for example, can now tap markets without having to build distribution networks of offices and local agents. They can compete effectively by mining data on risks and on the incomes and preferences of customers.
    At the same time, the expense of building brands online and the degree of consumer attention focused on a relatively small number of brands are redrawing battle lines in many markets. Singapore Post is investing in an e-commerce business that benefits from the company’s logistics and warehousing backbone. Japanese web retailer Rakuten is using its network to offer financial services. Web powerhouses like Google and Twitter eagerly test industry boundaries through products such as Google Wallet and Twitter’s retail offerings.
    New competitors can often be smaller companies that will never reach scale but still do a lot of damage to incumbents. In the retailing industry, for instance, entrepreneurs are cherry-picking subcategories of products and severely undercutting pricing on small volumes, forcing bigger companies to do the same.
    3. Winner-takes-all dynamics
    Digital businesses reduce transaction and labor costs, increase returns to scale from aggregated data, and enjoy increases in the quality of digital talent and intellectual property as network effects kick in. The cost advantages can be significant: online retailers may generate three times the level of revenue per employee as even the top-performing discounters. Comparative advantage can materialize rapidly in these information-intensive models—not over the multiyear spans most companies expect.
    Scale economies in data and talent often are decisive. In insurance, digital “natives” with large stores of consumer information may navigate risks better than traditional insurers do. Successful start-ups known for digital expertise and engineer-friendly cultures become magnets for the best digital talent, creating a virtuous cycle. These effects will accelerate consolidation in the industries where digital scale weighs most heavily, challenging more capital- and labor-intensive models. In our experience, banking, insurance, media, telecommunications, and travel are particularly vulnerable to these winner-takes-all market dynamics.
    In France, for instance, the start-up Free has begun offering mobile service supported by a large and active digital community of “brand fans” and advocates. The company nurtures opinion-leader “alpha fans,” who interact with the rest of the base on the Internet via blogs, social networks, and other channels, building a wave of buzz that quickly spreads across the digital world. Spending only modestly on traditional marketing, Free nonetheless has achieved high levels of customer satisfaction through its social-media efforts—and has gained substantial market share.2
    4. Plug-and-play business models
    As digital forces reduce transaction costs, value chains disaggregate. Third-party products and services—digital Lego blocks, in effect—can be quickly integrated into the gaps. Amazon, for instance, offers services that let businesses “insource” logistics, IT services, and online retail “storefronts.” For many businesses, it may not pay to build out those functions at competitive levels of performance, so they simply plug an existing offering into their value chains. In the United States, registered investment advisers have been the fastest-growing segment3 of the investment-advisory business, for example. They are expanding so fast largely because the turnkey systems (including record keeping and operating infrastructure) they can purchase from Charles Schwab, Fidelity, and others give them all the capabilities they need. With a license, individuals or small groups can be up and running their own firms.
    In the travel industry, new portals are assembling entire trips: flights, hotels, and car rentals. The stand-alone offerings of third parties, sometimes from small companies or even individuals, plug into such portals. These packages are put together in real time, with dynamic pricing that depends on supply and demand. As more niche providers gain access to the new platforms, competition is intensifying.
    5. Growing talent mismatches
    Software replaces labor in digital businesses. We estimate, for instance, that of the 700 end-to-end processes in banks (opening an account or getting a car loan, for example), about half can be fully automated. Computers increasingly are performing complex tasks as well. “Brilliant machines,” like IBM’s Watson, are poised to take on the work of many call-center workers. Even knowledge-intensive areas, such as oncology diagnostics, are susceptible to challenge by machines: thanks to the ability to scan and store massive amounts of medical research and patients’ MRI results, Watson diagnoses cancers with much higher levels of speed and accuracy than skilled physicians do. Digitization will encroach on a growing number of knowledge roles within companies as they automate many frontline and middle-management jobs based upon synthesizing information for C-level executives.
    At the same time, companies are struggling to find the right talent in areas that can’t be automated. Such areas include digital skills like those of artificial-intelligence programmers or data scientists and of people who lead digital strategies and think creatively about new business designs. A key challenge for senior managers will be sensitively reallocating the savings from automation to the talent needed to forge digital businesses. One global company, for example, is simultaneously planning to cut more than 10,000 employees (some through digital economies) while adding 3,000 to its digital business. Moves like these, writ large, could have significant social repercussions, elevating the opportunities and challenges associated with digital advances to a public-policy issue, not just a strategic-business one.
    6. Converging global supply and demand
    Digital technologies know no borders, and the customer’s demand for a unified experience is raising pressure on global companies to standardize offerings. In the B2C domain, for example, many US consumers are accustomed to e-shopping in the United Kingdom for new fashions (see sidebar, “How digitization is reshaping global flows”). They have come to expect payment systems that work across borders, global distribution, and a uniform customer experience.
    In B2B markets from banking to telecommunications, corporate purchasers are raising pressure on their suppliers to offer services that are standardized across borders, integrate with other offerings, and can be plugged into the purchasing companies’ global business processes easily. One global bank has aligned its offerings with the borderless strategies of its major customers by creating a single website, across 20 countries, that integrates what had been an array of separate national or product touch points. A US technology company has given each of its larger customers a customized global portal that allows it to get better insights into their requirements, while giving them an integrated view of global prices and the availability of components.
    7. Relentlessly evolving business models—at higher velocity
    Digitization isn’t a one-stop journey. A case in point is music, where the model has shifted from selling tapes and CDs (and then MP3s) to subscription models, like Spotify’s. In transportation, digitization (a combination of mobile apps, sensors in cars, and data in the cloud) has propagated a powerful nonownership model best exemplified by Zipcar, whose service members pay to use vehicles by the hour or day. Google’s ongoing tests of autonomous vehicles indicate even more radical possibilities to shift value. As the digital model expands, auto manufacturers will need to adapt to the swelling demand of car buyers for more automated, safer features. Related businesses, such as trucking and insurance, will be affected, too, as automation lowers the cost of transportation (driverless convoys) and “crash-less” cars rewrite the existing risk profiles of drivers.

    Managing the strategic challenges: Six big decisions

    Rethinking strategy in the face of these forces involves difficult decisions and trade-offs. Here are six of the thorniest.
    Decision 1: Buy or sell businesses in your portfolio?
    The growth and profitability of some businesses become less attractive in a digital world, and the capabilities needed to compete change as well. Consequently, the portfolio of businesses within a company may have to be altered if it is to achieve its desired financial profile or to assemble needed talent and systems.
    Tesco has made a number of significant digital acquisitions over a two-year span to take on digital competition in consumer electronics. Beauty-product and fragrance retailer Sephora recently acquired Scentsa, a specialist in digital technologies that improve the in-store shopping experience. (Scentsa touch screens access product videos, link to databases on skin care and fragrance types, and make product recommendations.) Sephora officials said they bought the company to keep its technology out of competitors’ reach and to help develop in-store products more rapidly.4
    Companies that lack sufficient scale or expect a significant digital downside should consider divesting businesses. Some insurers, for instance, may find themselves outmatched by digital players that can fine-tune risks. In media, DMGT doubled down on an investment in their digital consumer businesses, while making tough structural decisions on their legacy print assets, including the divestment of local publications and increases in their national cover price. Home Depot continues to shift its investment strategy away from new stores to massive new warehouses that serve growing online sales. This year it bought Blinds.com, adding to a string of website acquisitions.5
    Decision 2: Lead your customers or follow them?
    Incumbents too have opportunities for launching disruptive strategies. One European real-estate brokerage group, with a large, exclusively controlled share of the listings market, decided to act before digital rivals moved into its space. It set up a web-based platform open to all brokers (many of them competitors) and has now become the leading national marketplace, with a growing share. In other situations, the right decision may be to forego digital moves—particularly in industries with high barriers to entry, regulatory complexities, and patents that protect profit streams.
    Between these extremes lies the all-too-common reality that digital efforts risk cannibalizing products and services and could erode margins. Yet inaction is equally risky. In-house data on existing buyers can help incumbents with large customer bases develop insights (for example, in pricing and channel management) that are keener than those of small attackers. Brand advantages too can help traditional players outflank digital newbies.
    Decision 3: Cooperate or compete with new attackers?
    A large incumbent in an industry that’s undergoing digital disruption can feel like a whale attacked by piranhas. While in the past, there may have been one or two new entrants entering your space, there may be dozens now—each causing pain, with none individually fatal. PayPal, for example, is taking slices of payment businesses, and Amazon is eating into small-business lending. Companies can neutralize attacks by rapidly building copycat propositions or even acquiring attackers. However, it’s not feasible to defend all fronts simultaneously, so cooperation with some attackers can make more sense than competing.
    Santander, for instance, recently went into partnership with start-up Funding Circle. The bank recognized that a segment of its customer base wanted access to peer-to-peer lending and in effect acknowledged that it would be costly to build a world-class offering from scratch. A group of UK banks formed a consortium to build a mobile-payment utility (Paym) to defend against technology companies entering their markets. British high-end grocer Waitrose collaborated with start-up Ocado to establish a digital channel and home distribution before eventually creating its own digital offering.
    Digital technologies themselves are opening pathways to collaborative forms of innovation. Capital One launched Capital One Labs, opening its software interfaces to multiple third parties, which can defend a range of spaces along their value chains by accessing Capital One’s risk- and credit-assessment capabilities without expending their own capital.
    Decision 4: Diversify or double down on digital initiatives?
    As digital opportunities and challenges proliferate, deciding where to place new bets is a growing headache for leaders. Diversification reduces risks, so many companies are tempted to let a thousand flowers bloom. But often these small initiatives, however innovative, don’t get enough funding to endure or are easily replicated by competitors. One answer is to think like a private-equity fund, seeding multiple initiatives but being disciplined enough to kill off those that don’t quickly gain momentum and to bankroll those with genuinely disruptive potential. Since 2010, Merck’s Global Health Innovation Fund, with $500 million under management, has invested in more than 20 start-ups with positions in health informatics, personalized medicine, and other areas—and it continues to search for new prospects. Other companies, such as BMW and Deutsche Telekom, have set up units to finance digital start-ups.
    The alternative is to double down in one area, which may be the right strategy in industries with massive value at stake. A European bank refocused its digital investments on 12 customer decision journeys,6 such as buying a house, that account for less than 5 percent of its processes but nearly half of its cost base. A leading global pharmaceutical company has made significant investments in digital initiatives, pooling data with health insurers to improve rates of adherence to drug regimes. It is also using data to identify the right patients for clinical trials and thus to develop drugs more quickly, while investing in programs that encourage patients to use monitors and wearable devices to track treatment outcomes. Nordstrom has invested heavily to give its customers multichannel experiences. It focused initially on developing first-class shipping and inventory-management facilities and then extended its investments to mobile-shopping apps, kiosks, and capabilities for managing customer relationships across channels.
    Decision 5: Keep digital businesses separate or integrate them with current nondigital ones?
    Integrating digital operations directly into physical businesses can create additional value—for example, by providing multichannel capabilities for customers or by helping companies share infrastructure, such as supply-chain networks. However, it can be hard to attract and retain digital talent in a traditional culture, and turf wars between the leaders of the digital and the main business are commonplace. Moreover, different businesses may have clashing views on, say, how to design and implement a multichannel strategy.
    One global bank addressed such tensions by creating a groupwide center of excellence populated by digital specialists who advise business units and help them build tools. The digital teams will be integrated with the units eventually, but not until the teams reach critical mass and notch a number of successes. The UK department-store chain John Lewis bought additional digital capabilities with its acquisition of the UK division of Buy.com,7 in 2001, ultimately combining it with the core business. Wal-Mart Stores established its digital business away from corporate headquarters to allow a new culture and new skills to grow. Hybrid approaches involving both stand-alone and well-integrated digital organizations are possible, of course, for companies with diverse business portfolios.
    Decision 6: Delegate or own the digital agenda?
    Advancing the digital agenda takes lots of senior-management time and attention. Customer behavior and competitive situations are evolving quickly, and an effective digital strategy calls for extensive cross-functional orchestration that may require CEO involvement. One global company, for example, attempted to digitize its processes to compete with a new entrant. The R&D function responsible for product design had little knowledge of how to create offerings that could be distributed effectively over digital channels. Meanwhile, a business unit under pricing pressure was leaning heavily on functional specialists for an outsize investment to redesign the back office. Eventually, the CEO stepped in and ordered a new approach, which organized the digitization effort around the decision journeys of clients.
    Faced with the need to sort through functional and regional issues related to digitization, some companies are creating a new role: chief digital officer (or the equivalent), a common way to introduce outside talent with a digital mind-set to provide a focus for the digital agenda. Walgreens, a well-performing US pharmacy and retail chain, hired its president of digital and chief marketing officer (who reports directly to the CEO) from a top technology company six years ago. Her efforts have included leading the acquisition of drugstore.com, which still operates as a pure play. The acquisition upped Walgreens’ skill set, and drugstore.com increasingly shares its digital infrastructure with the company’s existing site: walgreens.com.
    Relying on chief digital officers to drive the digital agenda carries some risk of balkanization. Some of them, lacking a CEO’s strategic breadth and depth, may sacrifice the big picture for a narrower focus—say, on marketing or social media. Others may serve as divisional heads, taking full P&L responsibility for businesses that have embarked on robust digital strategies but lacking the influence or authority to get support for execution from the functional units.
    Alternatively, CEOs can choose to “own” and direct the digital agenda personally, top down. That may be necessary if digitization is a top-three agenda item for a company or group, if digital businesses need substantial resources from the organization as a whole, or if pursuing new digital priorities requires navigating political minefields in business units or functions.
    Regardless of the organizational or leadership model a CEO and board choose, it’s important to keep in mind that digitization is a moving target. The emergent nature of digital forces means that harnessing them is a journey, not a destination—a relentless leadership experience and a rare opportunity to reposition companies for a new era of competition and growth.


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    The American Red Cross: Adding Digital Volunteers to Its Ranks

    Wendy Harman describes how the Red Cross expands its reach using social media.
    The American Red Cross is part of the world’s largest humanitarian operation. It coordinates staff people, volunteers, other agencies and donors to help people in need, particularly after natural disasters. It coordinates blood donation drives and provides health and safety training in everything from First Aid for babysitters to CPR for first responders.
    Before being named director of Red Cross information management and situational awareness in disaster cycle services a year ago, Wendy Harman spent the previous six and a half years as the organization’s director of social engagement and social strategy. During that time, she built up the use of social media to help Red Cross efforts.
    “Our mission and philosophy around how social works best at the Red Cross is that we are very tactically valuable with every utterance we make, whether that’s providing emotional support, giving directions to the nearest shelter, providing locations of our nearest blood drive or even telling someone how to do CPR real quick,” says Harman.
    She took the job in disaster services, she says, “because I was finding myself much more interested in how to execute our mission by enabling communities to participate in it more, and to really begin to erase the line between what it means to be a Red Crosser and just a regular person. I think that technology has a lot to do with that.”
    In a conversation with Gerald C. (Jerry) Kane, an associate professor of information systems at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College and guest editor for MIT Sloan Management Review's Social Business Big Idea Initiative, Harman explains how Red Cross is using social media in its work around the three cycles of disaster: preparedness, response and recovery.
    You spent over six years as director of Red Cross’ social engagement and social strategy, and now you’ve moved over to disaster services. What was the opportunity you saw?
    Social was still sitting in a bubble on the outside of the structure. We were responding to everything and all working very well together, but social wasn’t yet a part of the way we do business. I took this position because I think we have the opportunity to start baking in some of that.
    The implications are broader than just how to use social media. In a disaster, it’s really about how do you turn over the entire mission of your organization to the community that’s been affected, and all the advocates surrounding it.
    How do you turn over the mission of your organization to the community?
    That’s what we are trying to figure out. We’d like to focus our energy on making sure families and communities are prepared, connected and resilient. That way, when the response time comes around, the community will be able to rise to being nearly entirely responsible for organizing that response. The Red Cross will always be there, but we want affected community members and their neighbors and advocates to know exactly how to do Red Cross work, whether or not they have the official Red Cross vest on.
    We’ve made a couple of really good tries so far, and we’re on the precipice of doing some more exciting things.
    Take us through some of them.
    We opened what we call the Digital Operations Center in Washington, DC in 2012, which is an actual physical room. It’s modeled after the Dell Command Center down in Austin [Texas]. Dell actually gave us a grant to build this one.
    The room is a social media command center. It’s where we monitor social conversations both in the run up to disasters and during them to help connect people with resources. What we’ve done is figured out a way to gather situational awareness, essentially to analyze top-line trends of social conversations, whenever a disaster happens. We’re stretching the typical use of this software built for commercial purposes to fit our humanitarian purposes.
    We run a digital volunteer program out of there, to coordinate trained volunteers in helping members of communities that are affected by a disaster in real time. Red Cross digital volunteers help analyze trends and route actionable incoming information as well as engage with individuals who have questions, need a tip, or emotional support (“digital hug”). The Digital Operations Center gives us the opportunity to track and figure out what the impacts of having digital volunteers is.
    We have about 200 trained digital volunteers. We had a pilot program in place for Hurricane Isaac, and then found ourselves doing lots of additional training during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. We now have a training process where we teach digital volunteers about the Red Cross, how to offer emotional support, how to correct misinformation, how to ensure correct information is spreading through the social web, and how to use the Digital Operations Center software.
    So you’re coordinating digital volunteers to work through the national organization.
    So far, yes. Now the social engagement team has recognized the power of decentralizing this program to be run out of our chapter network. Starting with 10 pilot chapters, we’re now equipping them with the tools to recruit their own digital volunteers. These local digital volunteers will “deploy” during disasters as well as during “steady state” times to help with local community engagement.
    We want to blur that line about who’s a Red Crosser and who’s not, to say, “actually, this is up to all of us.” The Red Cross is just regular people who choose to help their community. So it’s up to us, people in our own neighborhoods, to talk about preparedness, what we would do to make arrangements with our local grocery stores and restaurants and community centers and figure this out — and have a little bit of fun along the way. When we’re not in a disaster, we like to be positive and optimistic.
    We’re starting to figure out how to pilot what I think we’re calling a community mobilizer role. We’ll have some easy-to-use, very directed crowdsourcing mechanisms where people can raise their hand and say, “I want to be a leader of my street,” or “of my apartment building floor,” or “of this county” in rural areas, whatever it might be.
    What the community mobilizers will do is agree to serve in a disaster as an information liaison. We’ll push info to them, and they will push info to us about what’s happening in that community, and they’ll be the voices responsible for helping us to figure out our needs assessment. And you’ll be able to use an app and a few other different tools to sign up for that. You can do it on the fly, you can do it well beforehand and participate in our preparedness activities, or not. We’re going to be trying that out pretty soon.
    Do you have any early success stories with these digital volunteers?
    They’re fairly anecdotal. Like, for example, when a tornado is about to happen, when everybody’s gotten alerts on their phones and the sirens are going off, we start to see an enormous uptick in tweets about it. Almost all of those are singular tweets. People are just saying, “I’m scared,” or “Look, I’m listening to this tornado siren.”
    We’ll notice that there will be a thousand things that look just like that, all in the same area. So our digital volunteers start connecting those people together to remind them, “You’re not actually totally alone here. This is a thing that’s happening to a lot of people, and you can feel more connected while this really scary moment is happening.”
    Another example: there was a babysitter tweeting in Maryland when we had a tornado. She was babysitting for three kids, and she tweeted something like, “This alarm is going off and I have no idea what to do with these kids.” And we stepped in — we have established guidance that’s been approved by a panel of scientists. We used their tips and shared them with the babysitter, tweeting, “If you do these three things, you’re going to be making all the best decisions you possibly can make in this particular moment.” So we’re talking her and others through that moment, and also saying, “We’ll be here on the other side when it’s over, just stay safe for now.”
    There are other examples where people have tweeted things like, “Okay, I have this room that is not the innermost room, it doesn’t have any windows” or “I’ve got my garage or this other place, which one of these should I pick?” And like, it would be nice if you had thought about that before, but —
    This is not the time to nag.
    Right. But we’ll quickly do a little research on that answer and give those more nuanced, one-on-one answers. We’ve got hundreds of examples like those.
    When people are sending out these tweets, are they tweeting directly to Red Cross or are they just tweeting in general and you guys are picking up on them and responding?
    It can be either one. In Sandy, there were so many. We probably responded more to the ones that were specifically calling out to the Red Cross.
    Those are great examples of digital volunteers helping out during a crisis. How about directly after?
    Well Hurricane Sandy, for instance, was a huge response — I mean, the numbers of people affected are just kind of staggering. The thing that we did an awful lot of was just trying to get information about where resources and services were taking place, and matching them up with how close people were. Because New York is a vertical place, and people might not have seen the Red Cross truck even though it was only a block away.
    So we did really, really fast dynamic work. We set up what we called the “human app system,” where we called all of our response vehicle drivers once an hour and asked them where they were going to be, what they had on the truck. And we tweeted that, all that information, as soon as we got it. We also published it on our Disaster Newsroom. And then whenever we were seeing tweets of people saying that they needed help or services, we would find the nearest aid station or Emergency Response Vehicle and give the person in need a nearby address where they could find help. If we didn’t see resources nearby, we would route the request to our operation on the ground as a sort of ticket item for action.
    You’ve probably done social for about as long as anybody we’ve talked to. You had one of those early social media jobs. What have been the biggest changes over the last seven years?
    Oh, Lord. Everything has changed.
    Okay. Can we be a little more specific there?
    Of course. I mean, volume, right? That’s one of the bigger — it’s not a struggle, but the pure volume of conversation and finding needles in the haystack of things that have to be addressed, from that customer service or brand standpoint. I think it gets harder and harder, and there’s not a perfect software system to satisfy every social engagement need.
    I think social connections were simple and very authentic back in the day. I don’t want to be too dramatic about that. But the tone of the people participating on the social Web at that time was so focused on community — open source, in the big-picture idea of what open source is, which is that we’re all in this together, helping one another. I’ll link to your blog, you’ll link to mine, and we are sharing what one another is saying and commenting on it. There was a moment of thoughtfulness there. I think it’s still there, I don’t think it’s gone away, but I think it’s harder to find in the noise.
    People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. You see that on the social Web, with memes and everything else, all the time. Almost everything that gets popular on Facebook — sometimes it can be a funny story, it can be a sad story, it can be a really cute video — the reason that it takes off is that there’s an opportunity to contribute your little voice into the overall picture of what this is. That part is still there. I think it’s not as full of critical thinking as it was back in the long-form blog days. But that’s okay.
    Before I let you go, I heard you tell a story at a South by Southwest panel about what happened after someone from Red Cross accidentally sent a personal tweet on the official Red Cross Twitter feed. Can you tell that story?
    Sure. “#Gettngslizzerd” happened pretty late at night when my colleague accidentally tweeted from the Red Cross Twitter handle when she meant to tweet from her personal account. She tweeted something about finding a four-pack of Midas Touch beer, which is a Dogfish Head brand, and she added, “when we drink we do it right #gettingslizzerd.”
    She teaches Zumba, and she’d just made a routine to a Like a G6 song where the lyrics are, “When we drink, we do it right, we’re getting slizzered.” And so that was on her brain.
    What happened after it went out was that there were thousands and thousands of tweets in response saying, “The Red Cross is drunk.” Lots of people loved it. On the other hand, it was kind of scary for some people, too.
    I was in bed asleep when it happened and I was awakened by a colleague in Chicago who saw it — since this time I’ve shared my real live phone number with a lot of my social media counterparts at other big nonprofit organizations, and we sort of pledged to take care of one another if something like this should ever happen.
    I saw a lot of activity and I didn’t know what was going on. I was still a little groggy. I deleted the tweet, and then I woke up a little more and I remembered how a week earlier I was on a Facebook group for nonprofits talking about how much I love it when there are these mis-tweets. I thought they show a sort of window into the soul of an organization. I had never seen any institution that this has happened to where they just said, “Look, we did it, this was a mistake.” I figured we’d try that, and I thought that it would work with a little bit of humor.
    I called my friend in Chicago back, because I knew she was watching it and was awake. And we brainstormed the tweet that we’d put out in response.
    What did you write?
    I ended up writing, “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” And it hit the right note. It’s sort of that meme-ology thing. Everybody wants to pile on and be a part of this thing that’s bigger than themselves. I think that they were delighted that we could be in on it too, and they thought that that was really fun.
    So this was big. How big are we talking about?
    Big. Our blog got crashed, and it didn’t even get crashed during Haiti or any of the other huge disasters that we’ve had. It was a higher-trafficked event than most anything we’ve ever done. People donated a good amount of money that day, too. We also coordinated with Dogfish Head and set up a donation site. And restaurants all over the country jumped on it, too. They said, “If you come in and you prove that you’ve given blood today, we’ll give you a pint of beer.”
    We just decided to go for it for a few days and say, this is all okay. We can have fun with this.
    Reproduced from MIT Sloan Management Review


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    Three Ways to Make a Career Comeback


    Hit a wall in your career? Being passed over for promotions? If you don’t find out why soon and repair the damage, it won’t be long before you’re on your way out the door.

    Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get the answers you need. Clearly, your managers haven’t been candid with you about your performance to this point. Perhaps they expected you to read the writing on the wall and draw your own dire conclusions. Appraisal avoidance shouldn’t happen, but it often does when the news is going to be bad.

    Your job then is to gently initiate some kind of conversation with the boss you’re closest to, even if it is just to obtain a vague sense of what’s going on. But just as important, you need to start pouring energy into getting back on the radar screen.

    The most effective way to do that, not surprisingly, is to over deliver. Whatever you’re doing, do it better and faster. Expand your job’s horizons to include bold new activities. Come up with a new concept or process that doesn’t just improve your results, but your unit’s results and the company’s overall performance. Surprise everyone.

    A second powerful comeback technique is to raise your hand when the call goes out for people to sign up for major projects and initiatives, especially ones that don’t have a whole lot of popularity at the outset. Volunteer to work in a branch office in a tough competitive market or jump at the opportunity to be part of a big, new quality drive. A global assignment right now may take you too much out of the picture for your immediate purposes, but it is directionally correct. You need to prove you’re willing and able to go the extra mile.

    Finally, if you are draining away political capital within the organization in any form, stem the flow immediately. That means you may need to stop disparaging fellow employees, even in jest, or acting in any form like a wet blanket. Right now, your attitude needs to shout one word: “Yes.”

    Can we guarantee that these three “fixes” will revive your career? Of course not. The facts are, sometimes a person has been underperforming for so long that they get an embedded reputation. No matter how hard you try, you will always be seen as the same old you.

    If, after a period of trying, you get the feeling that’s true in your case, we suggest you jump before you’re pushed. Find a company with a better fit, doing work you like. Then don’t wait for the silent treatment to alert you: From Day One, start building the results and reputation that will make you the new kid rising through the ranks.
    Jack Welch is Executive Chairman of the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University. Through its online MBA program, the Jack Welch Management Institute provides students and organizations with the proven methodologies, immediately actionable practices, and respected credentials needed to win in business.

    Suzy Welch is a best-selling author, popular television commentator, and noted business journalist. Her New York Times bestselling book, 10-10-10: A Life Transforming Idea, presents a powerful decision-making strategy for success at work and in parenting, love and friendship. Together with her husband Jack Welch, Suzy is also co-author of the #1 international bestsellerWinning, and its companion volume, Winning: The Answers. Since 2005, they have written business columns for several publications, including Business Week magazine, Thomson Reuters digital platforms, Fortune magazine, and the New York Times syndicate.

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    The Risks and Responsibilities of Tech Innovation

    Game-changing tech like Google Glass may redefine the boundaries of companies’ risk.

    Companies clearly have a responsibility for working conditions in their supply chain. But what are companies’ responsibilities in the "demand chain”? Do companies bear responsibility for the social risks of how consumers or buyers use their products? This question has been less explored, but is no less important, particularly in light of one of the most talked-about tech products now hitting the market: Google Glass.
    Google Glass is prompting concern among lawmakers and advocates for safe driving, worried about what drivers will do with the Internet at their eyeballs. A California woman charged with distracted driving last fall for wearing Google Glass behind the wheel was acquitted because police couldn’t prove the device was on; even so, a spokesman for the American Automobile Association noted, “Just looking at this and using common sense, it would seem to be something someone should not be doing while they’re behind the wheel.”
    Individuals must drive safely. But does Google also bear responsibility for potential harm caused by Glass users?
    The United Nations Guiding Principles on business and human rights were developed over six years of wide-ranging research and consultation, including with companies and business lobbying groups, and unanimously endorsed by the Human Rights Council in 2011. (I served as an advisor to the effort.) The Principles state that companies must “avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities, and address such impacts when they occur.”
    Google’s design, manufacture, and distribution of Glass clearly constitute Google’s “own activities”; therefore, if Glass distracts drivers and thereby causes traffic accidents, Google has a responsibility to address this issue.
    So far, Google seems to feel otherwise. “When you’re wearing Glass, we just ask you to be very aware of what’s going on around you, to use it wisely, the same way you would use any technology,” said a Google spokesperson.
    In other words, it’s not our problem.
    But some might disagree. Vivek Krishnamurthy, an attorney with the law firm Foley Hoag and an expert in the intersection of technology and human rights, told me, “The key question is, does this pose a set of dangers that is different enough from other technologies that a warning” — apart from what’s buried in terms-of-agreement legalese — “is not enough?”
    There is no question that Google believes Glass is a game-changer. So what should a company in Google’s position — with potentially groundbreaking technology that has the potential create serious risks — do when faced with this dilemma?

    Acknowledge responsibility.

    Companies cannot proudly take ownership for the positive impacts of their products while distancing themselves from harms. Companies should acknowledge that there may be risks to using their products in plain English (and Spanish, French, German, Arabic, Mandarin, and any other language necessary) — while making it clear that they will be proactive in assessing and mitigating those risks.

    Proactively work with others.

    Companies should regularly convene advisory groups of experts across different disciplines; in Glass’s case, perhaps a mix of safe-driving advocates, behavioral scientists, and experts in dual-use technology and human rights could help ensure that Glass doesn’t exacerbate our worst tendencies and encourage unsafe behavior. Such external input should be factored into the product development stage; demonstrating that social risks have been evaluated should be a requirement before every new feature and app release.

    Leave room for safeguards.

    Krishnamurthy told me, “The company can’t consider all of the risks because they’re unknown — but the company should think carefully about what they do to design around those risks.” Companies should allow for the ability to push out software updates to make their products safer once the risks become clearer. There are plenty of safe driving apps for cell phones, which might offer a precedent for Google to follow.

    Hold users accountable.

    Microsoft suspends the accounts of XBox Live Users for violating their Code of Conduct. Google should make it clear that they do not condone unsafe behavior with Glass and will participate in users’ prosecution when they’ve violated the law.
    Companies must manage the social risks that they cause or contribute to, no matter where they occur and at whose hands. As they develop technology that aims to transform how we live, it is even more critical that they acknowledge this responsibility.
    Reproduced from MIT Sloan Management Review


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    Sustainability Dialects

    In the fourth installment in a series about the next generation of CSR management, Gregory Unruh stresses the value of developing a common language of sustainability within your company.



    It doesn’t take much to discover that sustainability means different things to different people. Try engaging on the topic with external stakeholders. Labor advocates see it differently than Greenpeace. Community leaders see it differently than regulators. Who you’re talking to affects what they hear.
    Part of the CSR Director’s job is navigating these diverse meanings and communicating effectively across them. And as discussed in earlier posts, these external skills are turned inward by sustainability insurgents.

    A business can be viewed in a variety of ways. MBAs tend to see it as an economic entity competing for market share. Lawyers see it as a “nexus of contracts.” Sociologists talk in terms of culture and human relations. None of these views is inherently better than any of the others. The value of any view depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

    Sustainability insurgents want to embed sustainability thinking into the decision calculus of their organization. The challenge lies in the fact that the levers and tools needed to implement sustainability are controlled not by the CSR office, but by the functional managers in the HR, operations, finance and other departments. 

    What is the best avenue for influencing and persuading functional managers?Successful sustainability insurgents view their organization as a network of conversations and strategically introduce sustainability thinking into ongoing corporate conversations.

    Each functional area has its own conversation built on terminology and jargon suited to their specific business concerns. Advertising talks of impressions, click-throughs, eyeballs. Operations discusses inventory, stocks and processes. HR is concerned with on-boarding, compensation and so on.

    Insurgents tap into these functional conversations and help managers develop what can be called a sustainability dialect that translates corporate sustainability goals into the local functional discussions and thinking. This is really the end point of the acculturate phase discussed in the previous series' installment. The Goal is to have the functions take on their unique sustainability responsibility voluntarily. Once sustainability is embedded in their conversations — and ultimately their processes — the function owns it and sustainability becomes a normal part of their decision goals and processes.

    As an example of how this works, take the Human Resources function. This department has numerous tools that are important for embedding sustainability across the entire employee lifecycle. Sustainability insurgents begin by engaging in conversations around recruiting, an important HR responsibility. By convincing HR managers to include sustainability questions in the interview process and to view it as a new hire issue, insurgents can ensure that new sustainability expertise is constantly being brought into the company.

    Next, insurgents can engage in conversations about adding corporate sustainability training into the on-boarding process. This low- to no-cost step can ensure that employees are engaged with sustainability from day one. Conversations about adding sustainability questions into employee attitude surveys can deepen HR and senior management’s understanding of the impact sustainability values have on employee motivation, loyalty and so on. Eventually, conversations can turn to embedding sustainability into employee evaluation and compensation metrics. By this point, HR has been acculturated to sustainability and owns their role in achieving the company’s sustainability goals.

    Similar conversations can take place with each of the functional areas to help them develop their own sustainability dialect for their scope of responsibility. By starting with small, low-cost, low-risk actions, sustainability insurgents can minimize resistance as they gradually acculturate functions to their sustainability role in the organization.

    Reproduced from MIT Sloan Management Review

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    NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has imaged the planet Mercury passing in front of the sun, visible as a faint darkening that moves across the face of the sun.

    This is the first transit of the sun by a planet observed from any planet other than Earth, and also the first imaging of Mercury from Mars. Mercury fills only about one-sixth of one pixel as seen from such great distance, so the darkening does not have a distinct shape, but its position follows Mercury's expected path based on orbital calculations.

    The observations were made on June 3, 2014, from Curiosity's position inside Gale Crater on Mars. In addition to showing the Mercury transit, the same Mastcam frames show two sunspots approximately the size of Earth. The sunspots move only at the pace of the sun's rotation, much slower than the movement of Mercury.

    Many viewers on Earth observed a Venus transit in June 2012, the last visible from Earth this century. The next Mercury transit visible from Earth will be May 9, 2016. Mercury and Venus transits are visible more often from Mars than from Earth, and Mars also offers a vantage point for seeing Earth transits. The next of each type visible from Mars will be Mercury in April 2015, Venus in August 2030 and Earth in November 2084.

    This animated blink comparison shows five versions of observations that NASA's Curiosity made about one hour apart while Mercury was passing in front of the sun on June 3, 2014. Two sunspots, each about the diameter of Earth, also appear, moving much less than Mercury during the hour. 



    Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Texas A&M
    #nasa #mars #curiosity #marscuriosity #solarsystem#space #mercury #sun #solar

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    The Great Divide in Content Marketing - infographic

    "Embraced by brands and marketing professionals around the world, content marketing continues to capture budget and priority in the marketing mix. But there’s a startling contrast in the motivations behind content marketing and the actual results.

    Check out this infographic that shows how the actual results of content marketing don’t always line up with what we’re intending or expecting from our efforts – and a few important tips for marketers seeking to close that gap."



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    हमारे मित्र प्रिंस पाण्डेय जी की लिखी कविता हमें पसंद आई।
    सोचा आप लोगों के साथ शेयर करु आशा हैं आपको पसंद आएगी


    "बड़ा महत्व है एक बार पढ़ के तो देखो"
    ससुराल में साली का
    बाग़ में माली का
    होंठो में लाली का
    पुलिस में गाली का
    मकान में नाली का
    कान में बाली का
    पूजा में थाली का
    खुशी में ताली का------बड़ा महत्व है
    फलों में आम का
    भगवान में राम का
    मयखाने में जाम का
    फैक्ट्री में काम का
    सुर्ख़ियों में नाम का
    बाज़ार में दाम का
    मोहब्ब्त में शाम का-------बड़ा महत्व है
    व्यापार में घाटा का
    लड़ाई में चांटा का
    रईसों में टाटा का
    जूतों में बाटा का
    रसोई में आटा का-----बड़ा महत्व है
    फ़िल्म में गाने का
    झगड़े में थाने का
    प्यार में पाने का
    अंधों में काने का
    परिंदों में दाने का-----बड़ा महत्व है
    ज़िंदगी में मोहब्ब्त का
    परिवार में इज्ज़त का
    तरक्की में किसमत का
    दीवानो में हसरत का------बड़ा महत्व है
    पंछियों में बसेरे का
    दुनिया में सवेरे का
    डगर में उजेरे का
    शादी में फेरे का------बड़ा महत्व है
    खेलों में क्रिकेट का
    विमानों में जेट का
    शारीर में पेट का
    दूरसंचार में नेट का-----बड़ा महत्व है
    मौजों में किनारों का
    गुर्वतों में सहारों का
    दुनिया में नज़ारों का
    प्यार में इशारों का------बड़ा महत्व है
    खेत में फसल का
    तालाब में कमल का
    उधार में असल का
    परीक्षा में नकल का-----बड़ा महत्व है
    ससुराल में जमाई का
    परदेश में कमाई का
    जाड़े में रजाई का
    दूध में मलाई का -----बड़ा महत्व है
    बंदूक में गोली का
    पूजा में रोली का
    समाज में बोली का
    त्योहारों में होली का
    श्रृंगार में चोली का-----बड़ा महत्व है
    बारात में दूल्हे का
    हड्डियों में कूल्हे का
    रसोई में चूल्हे का-------बड़ा महत्व है
    सब्जियों में आलू का
    बिहार में लालू का
    मशाले में बालू का
    जंगल में भालू का
    बोलने में तालू का-------बड़ा महत्व है
    मौसम में सावन का
    घर में आँगन का
    दुआ में दामन का
    लंका में रावन का-------बड़ा महत्व है
    चमन में बहार का
    डोली में कहार का
    खाने में अचार का
    मकान में दीवार का-----बड़ा महत्व है
    सलाद में मूली का
    फूलों में जूली का
    सज़ा में सूली का
    स्टेशन में कूली का------बड़ा महत्व है
    पकवानों में पूरी का
    रिश्तों में दूरी का
    आँखों में भूरी का
    रसोई में छूरी का ----बड़ा महत्व है
    और आखिरी आपके लिए:-
    खेत में साप का
    सिलाई में नाप का
    खानदान में बाप का
    और
    फेसबुक पर आप का----
    बड़ा महत्व है
    कैसा लगा महत्व दोस्तो???


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    A STARTUP "FACTORY" THAT STRADDLES THE BERLIN WALL IS TWITTER'S NEW HOME IN GERMANY

    ZENDESK, SOUNDCLOUD, AND MOZILLA ARE AMONG THE FIRST TENANTS OF A MASSIVE BUILDING THAT INCLUDES FUNDING FROM GOOGLE FOR ENTREPRENEURS.
    “I want robots, I wants drones flying around,” says Simon Schaefer, bounding into a meeting room on the top floor of the main Factory building, waving an espresso. As this extraordinary 170,000 square-foot campus--Berlin’s first major startup hub--finally opens after a 30-month gestation, its 37-year-old founder is entitled to think big.
    Indeed, even before the first tenants, which include Twitter, Mozilla, SoundCloud, and Zendesk, have unpacked, Schaefer is scouting the city for more space. Not even the World War II grenades that were recently unearthed in what will become the main courtyard, when deemed safe, have dampened his enthusiasm for grand designs. He rolls a detonated shell around his desk. Factory, says Schaefer, will be “a playground for entrepreneurs that will help to transform Berlin.”
    The campus straddles the former Berlin Wall, including a section that was known as the "death strip." One side of the main building--which has open-plan wooden flooring, full-height glass, and resort-size terraces--actually formed part of the interior of the Wall. When complete there will be a health club, lounges bars with “big music systems,” a deli and restaurant, and, as this is Germany, saunas and loads of sporting events. Programmers and designers can apply for free on-campus accommodation, for up to six months at a time.
    Rendering of the FactoryImage courtesy of The Factory Berlin
    The venture is a pretty striking symbol for this reinvented city. “Out of the first hundred people working here, there are 30 nationalities,” Schaefer tells Fast Company. By September, around 500 people will be bedded in, many drawn to Berlin by its hedonistic-meets-grown-up lifestyle. Indeed, MTV's recently revamped Berlin headquarters look a bit staid in comparison with Factory.
    This coolness factor is partly why Twitter, whose popularity lags behind other social networks in Germany, has chosen Factory as its base to reboot its operations in Europe’s most dynamic economy--especially as the company is moving aggressively into mobile advertising. Twitter’s 15-person team will be led by two senior executives. Thomas de Buhr, most recently Google’s branding chief for the German speaking countries, will create a sales team to target advertising agencies in Germany. Rowan Barnett, meanwhile, will try to raise Twitter’s profile by encouraging politicians and celebrities to tweet.
    "The success story of Twitter can be an inspiration for Berlin-based startups," said Barnett, speaking outside Factory earlier today. "We are delighted to be working at this historic location."
    Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt was also on hand to deliver a rallying speech about inclusivity, he ended by congratulating Germany "for finally becoming a Start-up Nation." Google, which has a notoriously prickly relationship with Germany as a result of often falling afoul of the country's strict privacy laws, has pledged €1m ($1.35m) to the project through its “Google for Entrepreneurs” program.
    SoundCloud’s expansive digs, meanwhile, will incorporate “a den” which will feature a functional fireplace, a record player, and absolutely no computer screens. The idea is that here people can disconnect a little.
    Startups have free use of a 400-capacity auditorium to host events, and there will also be a startup fair every summer and dinners where founders meet other people looking to interact. Although the idea is that tenants will cross-pollinate each other financially, Factory plans to launch a €100m fund in the next few weeks to bridge the gap between late-seed and early series A funding. “Getting traction at that point is the hardest thing for startups in Germany,” Schaefer says.
    “It is vital that we create an environment where smaller local companies can learn from established ones,” says Schaefer, citing companies such as software startup 6 Wunderkinder, which now has 90 employees, and Lime Makers, a new 3-D-printing venture, backed by Skype and Spotify investors.
    While Factory may seem quirky and quite German, it is a template that Schaefer aims to replicate in other cities throughout Europe and beyond. “We created Factory as a model that we could license and I think it would work in places such as Athens, Barcelona, Lisbon, or Tel Aviv. I definitely want to open at least one somewhere else," he says. "For now, I guess, it's ‘watch this space.'"
    [Photo by Bernd Von Jutrczenka, Picture-alliance, Dpa, AP Images]



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