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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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    Startup Schools: America's Most Entrepreneurial Universities

    For the second time, Stanford University out-muscled its East Coast rivals to top the FORBES 2014 most entrepreneurial universities list. Silicon Valley’s reach has extended across California, as the state’s schools took over half of this year’s top ten spots.
    FORBES ranked the nation’s most entrepreneurial research universities based on their entrepreneurial ratios – the number of alumni and students who have identified themselves as founders and business owners on LinkedInagainst the school’s total student body (undergraduate and graduate combined).
    Here are the highlights of the top 20 start-up schools on our list:
    1 Stanford University
    Its entrepreneurs don’t always wait for degrees. Among its famous dropouts:Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin; Yahoo’s Jerry Yang and David Filo; and Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel.
    2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Its student-run $100K Entrepreneurship Competition has led to the creation of more than 130 companies and 2,500 jobs.
    3 University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley has three startup incubators on campus, including SkyDeck, a joint effort of the university’s research office and its business and engineering schools.
    4 Cornell University
    Founded in 2001, the Cornell Entrepreneur Network has organized hundreds of events for about 20,000 alumni, students, staff, parents and friends (read my colleague Natalie Robehmed’s profile on Cornell).
    5 University of California, Los Angeles
    State school UCLA hosted 4,000 developers
    in April for the second annual LA Hacks hackathon.
    6 California Institute of Technology
    Caltech boasts 32 alumni and faculty Nobel laureates despite a total student body of fewer than 2,300 in Pasadena.
    7 Brown University
    Popular professor Barrett Hazeltine has been teaching entrepreneurship and engineering for about half a century. Former students include the founders of Nantucket Nectars.
    8 Princeton University
    Summa cum laude grad Jeff Bezos was president of its Students for the Exploration & Development of Space. He donated $15 million to build its neuroscience research center.
    9 Pepperdine University
    Associated with the Churches of Christ, this private school in California counts among its alums eHarmony founder Neil Clark Warren.
    10 Dartmouth College
    Dartmouth’s Entrepreneurial Network (DEN) has provided support for over 500 projects and companies since 2001.
    11 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    RPI, established in Troy, N.Y. in 1824, claims to be the oldest science and technology school in the English-speaking world.
    12 Yale University
    Telecom mogul John Malone got his start as an electrical engineering student at Yale; he has since donated $74 million to the engineering school.
    13 Clark University
    Matthew Goldman turned his economic lessons at Clark into Blue Man Group, now a multimillion-dollar show across the country that he cofounded.
    14 Syracuse University
    Private equity titan Daniel D’Aniello, a magna cum laude graduate, funds an internship program that gives 20 students hands-on entrepreneurial experience each year.
    15 Southern Methodist University
    Selected students at SMU’s business school gain firsthand venture capital experience by running the Cox MBA Venture Fund.
    16 New York University
    NYU will open a 5,900-square-foot Entrepreneurs Lab in the heart of Greenwich Village this fall for students to exchange ideas.
    17 Howard University
    Sean “Diddy” Combs got his honorary doctorate degree earlier this year almost 25 years after dropping out of the school to build his music empire.
    18 San Diego State University
    Rubio’s Grill cofounder Ralph Rubio enjoyed his first fish taco while on spring break from SDSU; the company now has more than 190 restaurants nationwide.
    19 University of Colorado, Boulder
    The university got a $4 million grant from Blackstone Group to build an entrepreneurs network for the state.
    20 University of California, Santa Barbara
    In July UCSB and the nearby city of Goleta opened a 4,500-square-foot incubator in Oldtown Goleta.
    The rest of the top 50 universities are:
    21 University of San Francisco
    22 University of Southern California
    23 The University of Texas at Austin
    24 Carnegie Mellon University
    25 University of Miami
    26 Northwestern University
    27 University of Denver
    28 Boston University
    29 American University
    30 Brigham Young University
    31 Miami University-Oxford
    32 Brandeis University
    33 Florida Institute of Technology
    34 Harvard University
    35 University of Maryland-College Park
    36 Hofstra University
    37 Southern Illinois University Carbondale
    38 University of Tulsa
    39 Tufts University
    40 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
    41 University of Notre Dame
    42 University of Pennsylvania
    43 University of Washington-Seattle
    44 Clarkson University
    45 Lehigh University
    46 Pennsylvania State University
    47 University of San Diego
    48 Boston College
    49 Colorado State University
    50 Rice University

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    Get Over Your Fear of Conflict

    Most of us have some resistance to conflict. Instead of addressing issues directly, we try to be “nice” and end up spending an inordinate amount of time talking to ourselves or others — complaining, feeling frustrated, ruminating on something that already happened, or anticipating something that might happen. These conversations usually sound something like this:

    “My colleague interrupted me again. We’re supposed to be leading this effort together and this is his way of showing he’s the boss. He just makes me look bad in front of the team. I’ve been replaying it in my mind over and over again.”

    “Someone has to tell my direct report that his bad attitude is affecting the rest of the team, but I’m dreading it. I’ve been thinking about it all day and haven’t been able to get anything done.”
    “I know what they’re going to say — that we can’t have more resources due to budget constraints. I’ll probably just give up on this.”
    Sound familiar? These are just three recent examples that I heard in coaching sessions with clients.
    Here’s the trouble: These efforts to be “nice” can have pretty significant costs. You create relationships that are neither authentic nor constructive. Your health and self-esteem may suffer and you signal that you’re a victim. And your organization loses out as you make compromises with the loudest person in the room, lose the diversity of thinking that’s critical for innovation, or stop producing the best solutions.
    Below are five tips I’ve offered clients when they find themselves avoiding conflict:
    Recognize that being nice is an outdated strategy. At some point in your life or career, you probably got burned by conflict, and felt shamed or criticized. When that happens, we often decide to be accommodating rather than ever feeling that way again. We choose safety, peace, and harmony over speaking up.
    When I ask clients why they don’t want to have difficult conversations, it usually comes down to fear of experiencing those emotions again. Many have an “a-ha” moment when they realize they’re no longer that younger version of themselves; they’re now a more seasoned, experienced person with new skills and know-how.  As one client recently put it, “I’m still behaving as if I’m that second-year associate who got shouted-down by the senior partner for pushing back. But I’m now the general counsel of this organization.”
    Focus on the business needs. When you avoid conflict, you’re actually putting the focus squarely on yourself. In all three cases above, the clients felt backed into a corner, concerned about how others might perceive them. But it’s not about you.
    When I ask clients, “What would the CEO, customers, or shareholders of your organization say about this situation, and what does the business need?” they’re suddenly much more objective and clear:
    “The business needs me and my peer to be a united front.”
    “This direct report has a lot of potential and if I could coach him to use a more positive style, he could make a great contribution.”
    “We need to discuss the vision of what we’re trying to achieve and the resources it will take to make that possible.”
    Take the focus off you and your fear and concentrate on what the business needs.
    Speak objectively and make requests. Use observations, not labels. For example, in the case of the direct report, he’s likely to be defensive if you say, “I need to talk to you about how negatively you come off in staff meetings.” Instead, talk about what you observed: “I noticed in the last two staff meetings that when the COO got to the topic of the change initiatives, your body language changed and you reacted quite strongly. I’d love to discuss how you could share your concerns in the most productive way possible.”
    Include a request for the behavior that would support the shared business goal. In the case of the interrupting colleague, you might say, “In the last team meeting, I noticed that we were interacting with each other in a way that may be throwing the team off. To keep the team on track, it’s important that we appear as a united front. Can we determine what role we’ll play in the meetings in advance or agree on some non-verbal signals when it’s time to pass the baton?”
    Keep a calm demeanor. People who shy away from conflict often assume that it has to look aggressive, overbearing, or disrespectful. It doesn’t. You can — and should — be yourself and remain approachable, non-judgmental, and calm in these situations by being clear, focusing on the business needs, and making a request to ensure the business goal is achieved.
    Start with baby steps. Like any muscle you build, it takes practice and repetition before you can ratchet up your abilities. Start with easier situations first and address the conflict retrospectively (it can be hard to do it in the moment at first). But institute a statute of limitations whereby you cannot ruminate, fume, or carry on unproductively beyond 48 hours. During that 48 hours, focus on being more conscious and self-aware. Ask yourself:  What are my triggers?  What caused my anxiety and why does this feel personal? What does the business need from me in this situation? What request am I not making? Then, take action.
    Gradually, each of these new experiences will help you reframe conflict from something you dread, to something that — when properly embraced — can help move the business forward.

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    Why the Internet of Things narrative has to change

    Internet of Things is the current hip phrase of technology evangelists, geeks and all kinds of clairvoyants. If, according to tech blogs and websites, 2013 was the year of big data, then 2014 certainly is the year of Internet of Things.
    New projects, big funding rounds, the general hype and excitement are everywhere. And yet, we don’t really get the whole thing right. The general media seem more concerned with new smart thermostats design than how the concept of IoT is changing our lives. It’s time to approach this massive subject properly and start avoiding common misconceptions.

    It’s not about things

    The problem with Internet of Things is that everyone seems concerned only about the Things, maybe because the name, which kind of implies that. Every time a new connected light bulb or smart sensor hit the shelves, it’s hailed as another harbinger of the near future, where every single device is a digital entity as well as a physical one.
    In the meantime, news like the one about BT, IBM and ARM joining forces with 40 other companies to build HyperCat, a Web platform for unified processing of IoT-generated data (a huge thing if it reaches widespread adoption) or Intel and Samsung creating an IoT consortium go under the radar for most people. And that’s just completely missing the point.
    the internet data of things 730x374 Why the Internet of Things narrative has to change
    Just as the mainstream inception of electricity wasn’t about the light bulb, toaster or radio, the next step in the evolution of technology isn’t about Lockitron or Wink. Just think about it – it’s not any single, particular device that played the role of the ‘killer app’ for bringing electric current into households and businesses. It was the electricity itself.
    It’s the unified framework with a set of open APIs that made it possible for hackers and tinkerers of 19th and early 20th century to completely change the world. Virtually anyone with the right set of tools and enough knowledge about technology could put together something to be easily and almost instantaneously connected to the network.
    Therefore, it’s not the Things that are the point here – it’s the Internet.
    Gotta admit though, the metaphor isn’t perfect, as the case is a bit more complicated here (of course I took the liberty of simplifying history of industrial electricity for the sake of this short post as well, but the Web is even more complex). That’s because by saying Internet, I’m actually referring to much more than just infrastructure that allows to send and receive all those bits and bytes.
    There are two additional elements that are absolutely fundamental to the very concept of IoT. One of them is data, generated by billions of devices around the world, finally providing digital world with enough real world context. It’s best explained with Stacey Higginbotham’s words:
    This can be cool. It can be creepy. And it can be convenient. But as is always the case when we encounter technological shifts, the internet of things is really a tool. And like a hammer is used to expand the amount of force generated over a small area (allow you to hit something really hard), the internet of things is a tool is for cheaply delivering and gathering information.

    Access is key

    The second core component of Internet of Things is access. Open APIs or, coming back to the grid metaphor, electric sockets. All this ‘cool, creepy and convenient’ data becomes really valuable only when it can be put to use by developers across the world and businesses who can make it truly relevant.
    New services hooked up to huge streams of data mined out of all the connected devices will provide the Internet with an unprecedented level of context.
    data flow 730x382 Why the Internet of Things narrative has to change
    APIs also paved way for creating a network for machine-to-machine communication – an extremely important part of IoT that underlies the user-facing side. Computers are already interacting with each other on many levels (think stock markets, with some systems releasing financial data and others crunching numbers to make investment decisions), but as Internet of Things grows bigger and bigger, M2M importance is literally exploding.
    Why are APIs so important? Imagine a smart city project, in which the administration decided to introduce connected street lights. They process information about traffic congestion and react accordingly. And that’s pretty much it.
    But now the city releases the API to trusted developers. They can now start fetching this data to use it in their own apps, making Google Maps measure traffic more accurately and your Volvo being able to tell you if you’re going to make it on the green light.
    As it goes further, we also get an API for public transport. And public healthcare. And hundreds of other fields. That is Internet of Things.

    It’s happening now

    Another annoying and very common misconception about Internet of Things is assuming that it’s something that will be happening in the future. Maybe in 2015, maybe in 2018, maybe in 2020, who knows? Almost everybody seems to be painting this picture of connected future versus semi-connected present.
    That’s absurd – we’re online 24/7 and so are billions of devices across the globe, transferring data between a host of services and platforms. Right now there’s twice as many devices connected to the Web as there are humans on Earth.
    Sure, we’re still fairly early on the way, when we compare this amount to 50 billion connected devices Cisco is predicting for year 2020. But come on, not so long ago mobile was also ‘fairly early.’ Saying today that IoT will come in the future is like stating that ‘mobile will soon start gaining traction’ was after Apple unveiled the first iPad.
    461394569 10 730x496 Why the Internet of Things narrative has to change
    Internet already is everywhere around you. Do you have a Smart TV? Maybe you transcribed your post-Game of Thrones fourth season finale shock into a tweet directly through it? Or maybe you’re livestreaming your gaming sessions straight from PlayStation 4 to Twitch? Do you use Spotify Connect in your car or in your home sound system? Have you ever used Passbook or Google Wallet to store tickets and coupons? Did you compare results of physical activities with a friend who also jogs with NikeFuel?
    There’s already a huge group of people who answer ‘yes’ to not one, but each of those questions. And yet I keep hearing that the IoT era is coming. Internet of Things is not some crazy, futuristic idea that might or might not come true in the future. It is true. Right here. Right now.
    The most important step towards it has already been made. According to BI Intelligence, more than one in every five people on earth already has the key to enter the Internet of Things – a smartphone or a tablet.
    There’s 1.5 billion of people who can almost instantaneously tap into the global network, access the constant stream of data and use it to their own liking. They already have the devices that are hubs for this whole huge idea, the devices that deliver majority of digital services to the end users.
    Sure, in developing countries, it doesn’t look that bright. Connectivity is expensive and internet is slow, but the Web is there and, as I mentioned before, we’re still in the early stages. With the Googles and Facebooks of the world investing heavily into bringing quality connection to emerging markets with huge ROI potentially awaiting them there, those regions are catching up at a good rate.

    Where are we headed?

    It’s time we stopped imagining Internet of Things as connected thermostats and teapots. After all, slapping a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi module on any given home appliance isn’t exactly rocket science.
    It’s not the point here. The point is creating a structure for gathering and processing data from all those devices, giving access to them to developers and building meaningful services that provide real value to the users on top of that structure.
    As opposed to a common assumption, IoT is past its infancy. What we should be debating in the first place is not the design of new funky home automation gadget, but developing industry standards, building growing ecosystems and figuring out how to provide security for the users of 50 billion devices that will be connected to the Web in 2020.

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    Infosys' Sikka Era Begins As Shibulal Bids Adieu

    Infosys' Sikka Era Begins As Shibulal Bids Adieu

    More than three decades since its inception, India's second largest software firm Infosys will tomorrow get its first non-founder chief executive officer in Vishal Sikka.
    He replaces S D Shibulal, last among the co-founders to hold the CEO post. Mr Shibulal served his last day in office today.
    An outsider, Mr Sikka will be the first non-founder to take over as CEO since 1981, when the company was founded by seven friends.
    Over the last 33 years, Infosys co-founders N R Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, S Gopalakrishnan and S D Shibulal have steered the company's operations.
    Reminiscing their time together, Gopalakrishnan or Kris as he is popularly known as, said Shibulal has made immense contribution to the growth of the company.
    "Shibu is a wonderful colleague who will standby you at all times. He is the most hard-working, disciplined person I know, other than Murthy," he said.
    He has played every role at Infosys over the years and has contributed to the growth of the company, Mr Kris added.
    Sanjay Purohit, who worked with Shibulal for more than a decade, said the experience has been "life changing".
    "Over the last 14 years, he has personally taught me the discipline of relentless execution, the foresight and acumen to plan for the future, the perseverance to drive change and above all he has mentored me to mature as a compassionate leader," Mr Purohit, who also heads Infosys' products business, said.
    Praising the relentless pursuit of perfection and empathy Infosys communications team global head, Sukanya Ghosh said their story is one that has given hope and direction to many who have dreamt of doing something big.
    Vishal Sikka, 47, will face many challenges ahead. Be it the industry laggard performance or harassment allegations by overseas employees, Infosys has a tough road ahead and investors will look at Sikka to sort out the issues.
    The new CEO has already signalled towards technology-led changes at the firm, though he has said that no major transformation is imminent at the Bangalore-based company

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    This year it comes down to small, student-centric, liberal arts colleges vs. large, brainy, research-oriented universities closely associated with science, technology, engineering and math. The FORBES 7th annual Top Colleges ranking reveals higher education in flux, ongoing debate between the value of liberal arts vs. STEM degrees and a winning formula of high student satisfaction and graduation rates, alumni career success and low student debt.
    At No. 1, Williams College is 2014′s leading higher education institution in the U.S., followed by Stanford University andSwarthmore College. The first Ivy League school to show,Princeton University, comes in at No. 4. Two other Ivies make the top 10: Yale University at No. 6 and Harvard University at No. 7. Rounding out the 10 finest schools in America are Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyPomona CollegeU.S. Military Academyand Amherst College.
    While the elite liberal arts and STEM schools are neck-and-neck in the ranking race, their similarities are unmistakable: age, location, endowment and low debt for students. Colleges are like a fine wine. The average age of the top 100 colleges is a venerable 170 years, with an average founding date of 1843. The grand dames are Harvard, which opened its doors in 1636, followed by the College of William & Mary (1693) and Yale (1701). Among the youngest in the top 100 are Brandeis University and Scripps College, established in 1948 and 1926, respectively.Click here for our full list of America’s Top Colleges 
    Most are in the Northeast, followed by the West Coast, with the Midwest mildly under-represented (the top school in that region is Minnesota’sCarleton College at  No. 16) and  few great schools in the Sunbelt. Twenty-two schools control 50% of all $447.4 billion in college endowment money, with Harvard leading the pack, by far, at $32.3 billion, followed by Yale ($20.8B), University of Texas system ($20.5B), Stanford ($18.7B) and Princeton (18.2B).
    Of the indicators expressing student satisfaction and school efficacy, the top 10 schools enjoy the highest retention rates (no less than 95%) and some of the most formidable 4-year graduation rates in the country: Williams at 96% and Yale and Pomona at 89%. Of all the schools on the list, Lamar Universityhas the dubious distinction of a 54% first-to-second year retention rate, followed by Tennessee State University and Wright State University at 56%.
    Top schools cost money – and give out money. Of the top 50, the average total cost is nearly $59,000  and institutional aid is granted to nearly 53% of the student body – with the exception of the U.S. Military Academies, which are tuition free. Besides valuable degrees, the Ivies gift their students with low loan burdens. Only 8% of Princeton students had to take out loans in 2013; Yale is at 9% and Harvard and Stanford at 11%. The lowest in the country is Missouri’s College of the Ozarks and City University of New York, Baruch College at 6%, while 96% of students take out loans at Pacific University in Oregon and Immaculata University in Pennsylvania.
    Many elite public schools are top schools at a better price than their private counterparts. At No. 37, California has the top-placing state school in the U.S.,University of California, Berkeley, and is followed by University of Virginia(No. 40), College of William & Mary (No. 41) and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (No. 45).
    For the seventh year, FORBES has partnered exclusively with theWashington, D.C.-based Center for College Affordability and Productivity(CCAP). What sets our calculation of 650 colleges and universities apart from other rankings is our firm belief in “output” over “input.” We’re not all that interested in what gets a student into college. Our sights are set directly on ROI: What are students getting out of college. (See CCAP’s full methodology here.) We use National Center for Education Statistics data and PayScale as sources, among others. 

    In Photos: #MyTopCollege. New to the Top Colleges this year is #MyTopCollege. Passing over the typical “glamour shots” of playful students on the quad or scientists-in-training grinning at test tubes, we asked students, alumni and faculty to take to the social web and tell us what makes their school the tops. Call it school spirit gone social. Over 300 of our top schools participated, with some 35,000 tweets and almost 8,000 posts on Instagram.

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    How to Lead Your Team Through Change

    Business demands fluidity, which requires leaders to embrace change and take risks. Put simply, if you’re not ready to lead change then you’re not ready to lead full stop. 
    Mark Zuckerberg once said, “In a world that's changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks,” and he was right. Leadership is not a static endeavor. Successful managers not only acknowledge the need for business development but also are willing and able to navigate their team through change.
    The prospect of change can be daunting. But if managed correctly, the process doesn’t have to be painful. In today’s fast-paced society, the difference between success and failure can lie in a company’s ability to adapt. 
    Fail to grow your business and adjust to new ways of thinking, and your business will stagnate and die. Change in the business world is not an option, but a prerequisite for success. And leading change effectively is essential for development. Here is a road map to engineering a fruitful transition:

    1. Create a plan.

    Every business requires change in order to survive. If a company doesn’t innovate and react to changing market demands, it will collapse. 
    But make sure to not to make changes just for the sake of it. Before embarking on a journey of transformation be sure to have a solid business plan. Identify the areas of the business that need to be updated and put a plan in place for its execution.

    2. Understand the end goal.

    It’s critical to understand the end goal and objectives before starting out. Ask, Where is the company today and where does it need to be? 
    A change leader must have the confidence and capability to change tack, though, if another path looks clearer and makes more sense. Listen to employees, be bold enough to adjust the direction the company is headed toward and dispense with pride if another route makes more business sense. The path for change and innovation is not set in stone. 

    3. Communicate clearly.

    Communication is king when it comes to corporate change. From Day 1 it’s critical to have all members of the team be behind the leader. Be sure to keep everyone fully abreast of developments and ensure that employees understand the end goal. 
    Keeping the lines of communication open and involving employees in the change process makes it more likely employees will get on board. Give them the opportunity to share ideas, concerns, comments and suggestions throughout the period of change.
    Corporate change should be an exciting, rewarding and worthwhile experience, with effective communication being critical.

    4. Identify key players.

    People react differently to a transformation in the workplace and the leader's duty is to identify change advocates as well as potential saboteurs. Get key players on board from the beginning and take the time to walk them through the anticipated changes.
    These team members are likely to be instrumental when new processes are put into practice and can encourage skeptics to participate and help sustain the morale of the rest of their departments.

    5. Delegate tasks.

    Leading from the front is important. But an individual leader cannot implement change alone. Delegate tasks to individuals across the team and assign firm deadlines for completion. Be sure to follow up with each individual and provide support when necessary.
    While going through this period of change, be on hand to answer questions, provide guidance and offer support. By giving people responsibilities, more will get accomplished as others are encouraged to take ownership of the prerequisites for change.

    6. Set realistic objectives.

    The leader should not set up himself (or herself) and the department for failure. During a period of change it's reasonable to expect key team members to put in extra time and effort, but set realistic targets.
    If the expectations are too high, not only will quality be compromised but also deadlines won't be met, morale will plummet and people will become alienated. The result? A despondent, unhappy and floundering workforce.

    7. Manage expectations.

    The worth of any business leader can be measured simply by analyzing his or her ability to manage expectations. When leading a department through change, managing expectations is more critical that ever. Clarify what is expected from employees, and conversely figure out what they expect from the leader.

    8. Hold people accountable.

    Hold employees accountable for implementing change. To do that, equip them with the proper tools, talent, resources, responsibility and authority necessary for finishing the race. 

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    The Big Idea: 21st-Century Talent Spotting

    A few years ago, I was asked to help find a new CEO for a family-owned electronics retailer that wanted to professionalize its management and expand its operations. I worked closely with the outgoing chief executive and the board to pinpoint the relevant competencies for the job and then seek out and assess candidates. The man we hired had all the right credentials: He’d attended top professional schools and worked for some of the best organizations in the industry, and he was a successful country manager in one of the world’s most admired companies. Even more important, he’d scored above the target level for each of the competencies we’d identified. But none of that mattered. Despite his impressive background and great fit, he could not adjust to the massive technological, competitive, and regulatory changes occurring in the market at the time. Following three years of lackluster performance, he was asked to leave.

    Compare that story with one from the start of my executive search career. My task was to fill a project manager role at a small brewery owned by Quinsa, which then dominated the beer market in the southern cone of Latin America. In those days, I hadn’t yet heard the term “competency.” I was working in a new office without research support (in the pre-internet era), and Quinsa was the only serious beverage industry player in the region, so I was simply unable to identify a large pool of people with the right industry and functional background. Ultimately, I contacted Pedro Algorta, an executive I’d met in 1981, while we were both studying at Stanford University. A survivor of the infamous 1972 plane crash in the Andes, which has been chronicled in several books and the movieAlive, Algorta was certainly an interesting choice. But he had no experience in the consumer goods business; was unfamiliar with Corrientes, the province where the brewery was located; and had never worked in marketing or sales, key areas of expertise. Still, I had a feeling he would be successful, and Quinsa agreed to hire him. That decision proved to be a smart one. Algorta was rapidly promoted to general manager of the Corrientes brewery and then CEO of Quinsa’s flagship Quilmes brewery. He also became a key member of the team that transformed Quinsa from a family-owned enterprise to a large, respected conglomerate with a management team considered at the time to be among the best in Latin America.
    Why did the CEO of the electronics business, who seemed so right for the position, fail so miserably? And why did Algorta, so clearly unqualified, succeed so spectacularly? The answer ispotential: the ability to adapt to and grow into increasingly complex roles and environments. Algorta had it; the first CEO did not.
    Having spent 30 years evaluating and tracking executives and studying the factors in their performance, I now consider potential to be the most important predictor of success at all levels, from junior management to the C-suite and the board. I’ve learned how to identify people who have it and to help companies develop and deploy them. With this article, I share those lessons. As business becomes more volatile and complex, and the global market for top professionals gets tighter, I am convinced that organizations and their leaders must transition to what I think of as a new era of talent spotting—one in which our evaluations of one another are based not on brawn, brains, experience, or competencies, but on potential.
    A New Era
    The first era of talent spotting lasted millennia. For thousands of years, humans made choices about one another on the basis of physical attributes. If you wanted to erect a pyramid, dig a canal, fight a war, or harvest a crop, you chose the fittest, healthiest, strongest people you could find. Those attributes were easy to assess, and, despite their growing irrelevance, we still unconsciously look for them: Fortune 500 CEOs are on average 2.5 inches taller than the average American, and the statistics on military leaders and country presidents are similar.
    I was born and raised during the second era, which emphasized intelligence, experience, and past performance. Throughout much of the 20th century, IQ—verbal, analytical, mathematical, and logical cleverness—was justifiably seen as an important factor in hiring processes (particularly for white-collar roles), with educational pedigrees and tests used as proxies. Much work also became standardized and professionalized. Many kinds of workers could be certified with reliability and transparency, and since most roles were relatively similar across companies and industries, and from year to year, past performance was considered a fine indicator. If you were looking for an engineer, accountant, lawyer, designer, or CEO, you would scout out, interview, and hire the smartest, most experienced engineer, accountant, lawyer, designer, or CEO.
    I joined the executive search profession in the 1980s, at the beginning of the third era of talent spotting, which was driven by the competency movement still prevalent today. David McClelland’s 1973 paper “Testing for Competence Rather than for ‘Intelligence’” proposed that workers, especially managers, be evaluated on specific characteristics and skills that helped predict outstanding performance in the roles for which they were being hired. The time was right for such thinking, because technological evolution and industry convergence had made jobs much more complex, often rendering experience and performance in previous positions irrelevant. So, instead, we decomposed jobs into competencies and looked for candidates with the right combination of them. For leadership roles, we also began to rely on research showing that emotional intelligence was even more important than IQ.
    Now we’re at the dawn of a fourth era, in which the focus must shift to potential. In a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment (VUCA is the military-acronym-turned-corporate-buzzword), competency-based appraisals and appointments are increasingly insufficient. What makes someone successful in a particular role today might not tomorrow if the competitive environment shifts, the company’s strategy changes, or he or she must collaborate with or manage a different group of colleagues. So the question is not whether your company’s employees and leaders have the right skills; it’s whether they have the potential to learn new ones.

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    Four Key Questions about Grading

    There's an excellent article on grading in a recent issue of Cell Biology Education-Life Sciences Education. It offers a brief history of grading (it hasn’t been around for all that long), and then looks to the literature for answers to four key questions.
    1. Does grading provide feedback to help students understand and improve their deficiencies? The grade itself is feedback, but generally it is accompanied with faculty comments that justify the grade and offer suggestions for improvement. Most of us know the problem here, "The grade trumps the comment," as one researcher cited says. Students tend not to read the comments; they look at the grade and get on with life. Not all research supports that conclusion. In some studies, students report that they do read the comments but often struggle to understand the feedback, and they don't always know how to fix what we identified as a problem. As a result, the same mistakes occur in subsequent assignments. Grading feedback is not as effective as we might hope.
    2. Does grading motivate students to learn? Not really. More often, grading motivates students to focus on grades. If learning is part of the equation, it happens more by accident than design. Pass back an exam and everywhere you hear the question, "Whatcha get?" Nobody is asking, "Whatcha learn?" This analysis of grading and motivation offers an even bleaker conclusion. “Grades can dampen existing intrinsic motivation, give rise to extrinsic motivation, enhance the fear of failure, reduce interest, decrease enjoyment in the class work, increase anxiety, hamper performance on follow-up tasks, stimulate avoidance of challenging tasks, and heighten competitiveness.” (p. 161)
    3. Is grading on a curve the fairest way to grade? The practice of doing so started in the early 20th century when it was discovered that IQ scores were distributed across the population in a normal curve. "Conforming grades to a curve held the promise of addressing some of the problems surrounding grading by making the process more scientific and consistent across classrooms." (p. 162) However, grading on the curve creates other inequities. If you have a bunch of really bright students in one section, some will end up getting C's while the same raw scores will be B's in the section where ability is more widely distributed. But most faculty don’t apply the curve all that rigidly. They adjust it, as needed, for a section or a set of exams which erodes the objectivity and consistency. The other problem with the curve system is that it creates competition in the classroom. When students are competing for points, it's not in their best interest to collaborate or contribute, which pretty much rules out students learning from and with each other. That works out okay for some students, but it's not fair for those who do learn well with others.
    4. Do grades provide reliable information about student learning? This is the perennial question about what it is grades really measure and if they measure the same things consistently. The research cited in the paper documents inconsistency in grading by individual faculty members (two different grades for the same piece of work when it's graded at different times) and across individual graders. Rubrics help, but research still identifies unrelated factors that influence grading (like gender, ethnicity, and knowing who the student is, for example). That kind of inconsistency isn't a problem with objective exams, such as those with multiple-choice questions, but those exams have studentsselecting answers, which is significantly different than generating answers. That rounds us back to the question of what kind of learning grades really measure.
    We grade students to give them feedback, to motivate their learning, to see how they compare with other students, and to measure their learning—all reasonable purposes. "However, much of the research literature [reviewed in this article] suggests that these goals are often not being achieved with our current grading practices." (p. 163) Yes, that's a pretty scathing critique, but it's well documented and our answers to questions this central need to be accurate.

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    The Art Of Making A Brilliant Presentation

    You never get a second chance, to make a first impression! The same rings true for presentations. As a leader, you have to deliver your messages with laser guided precision. So how do you ensure that you ace that presentation? Well, for starters, you leave nothing to chance. But, that's perhaps, easier said than done. Here are a few key pointers that could help you make that brilliant presentation.

    Open with something completely unexpected

    The first 30 seconds to one minute, are crucial in a presentation. That's when your audience is sizing you up and you set expectations. If you are unable to capture the attention of the audience during that critical time, you have an uphill task of redeeming your presentation.
    Here is how Steve Jobs, started at the 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford University:
    "Truth be told, I never graduated from college, and this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today, I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it, no big deal—just three stories. The first story is about connecting the dots. I dropped out of Reed College after the first six months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another eighteen months or so before I really quit. So why'd I drop out? It started before I was born."
    Please see link to the video of the speech-

    Create a strong story line and use pictures to tell your story

    A picture is worth a thousand words.
    The human brain has remarkable abilities to craft stories out of personal experiences and relate it to visual cues.
    That's why when you have a story to share, audiences can relate to it, instantly.
    The picture here says it all. You don't have to describe 'Loyalty'; the image does it for you.

    Less is More

    There is a term in the corporate world called-'Death by Slides'. It refers to a surfeit of slides that were unnecessary in the first place.
    Nothing dampens a presentation, as much as unending slides.
    When in doubt, keep your presentation shorter than you would, otherwise.

    De-clutter your slides

    Nothing kills a slide, as much as clutter. If you try and cram all that you can fit into it, you will lose the audience instantly. People use fonts as small as 10 or 11 on their slides.
    Try projecting it. You will need to walk up to the screen and then use a magnifying glass to see what's on the screen. Remember, you are not there to antagonize the audience! A font size of over 20 usually works, depending on the size of the room.

    Engage your audience

    Sharing information alone is not enough. You need to engage the audience. If you have people asking you questions, responding to what you say, your impact would be significantly higher than if they were sitting with deadpan expressions and not saying anything.
    Ask questions, show pictures, engage the audience, in your own way.
    Your objective is not to say your piece and exit. It is to achieve the purpose of making the presentation, in the first place.

    Appeal to emotions

    Emotions get our attention and audiences tend to retain emotionally charged content long after the presentation. Audiences seldom identify with a presentation devoid of emotional appeal. Find the right emotion to appeal to and make your pitch accordingly.

    Don't let the means become the end

    No matter how slick your presentation slides are and how attractive you have made them,sometimes participants just won't buy in.
    So what do you do then? Change what you have to say on the spot to quickly address what key participants are looking for and minimize reliance on the slides.

    Maintain eye contact

    A great presentation is like a one on one conversation where each participant feels that the speaker is directly talking to him. And, the only way this can happen, is with continuous eye contact.

    A good presentation is all about preparation and inspiration

    As Thomas Edison once said, ‘Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration'. In a presentation, inspiration gives you the perspective while preparation gives you the edge. But, no matter how good you are at presentations, there is no substitute for rigorous preparation and multiple rehearsals.
    Many of you would have made some brilliant presentations yourself. It would be interesting to know your experiences and what worked for you. Please feel free to share your thoughts.
    Picture courtesy: Stanford University; Walter Isaacson

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    Data center projects get lost in translation

    The reasons to virtualize 80% of servers and create fault-tolerant clusters are obvious -- right? When you're explaining the project to the CFO, it's going to take more than IT metrics to make your case.

    Some IT pros enjoy discussions on new server features or how raising the chilled water temperature can cut 0.01 points off of the company's PUE, but your corporate leaders probably aren't among them.The people who obsess over power usage effectiveness (PUE) and server utilization rates also prevent wasted budgets and support agile business moves. They underpin success, but that isn't enough.

    "You have to speak the CFO's language," said Marconi Bomfim, vice president of systems architecture for a U.S. financial management company. "It gives [admins] the chance to show them all the wonderful things that IT is doing to support the business."

    There's a solid business value that drives new data center projects, but IT gets stuck in a features/function mind-set. To communicate, translate infrastructure and operations metrics into business values, said Robert Naegle, research director at Gartner Inc., during a presentation at the recent Gartner IT Infrastructure & Operations Management Summit in Florida.

    Metrics must align with what's important to the business. For example, 1% downtime means less than four days of downtime in a year. That's great, unless those four days affect a revenue-generating application, Naegle said. In that case, the C-suite executives only think that the data center is costing money and failing the business.

    To discuss IT projects with business partners, don't get lost in the details, and don't discuss technologies where you need to significantly educate the other parties.

    Generally, transactional systems for customer support or e-commerce are revenue drivers. Projects around disaster recovery, service-level agreements, asset management and productivity fall into the cost reduction category. There is some overlap between cost reduction projects and risk mitigation projects, such as data protection, downtime prevention and audit investments.

    Next, explain whether ongoing efforts are improving, failing or staying the same. Use aggregated scales of information to avoid digging into the hardware, software and other data center details that individually affect this upstream activity.

    "I'm definitely going to use 'translation' techniques to filter IT metrics for the executives to explain what we're doing," Bomfin said. "Everyone is doing more with less -- they don't have the time to learn your language."

    But communication is a two-way street. If businesses understand that servers and scripts are the underlying support structure for all customer-facing and internal applications and services, it is only natural for these executives to learn how IT works and make intelligent decisions around it.

    "A lot of CFOs [have] to become much more technology-focused with the cloud movement," said James Stanger, senior director of product management at trade association CompTIA Inc., based in Downers Grove, Illinois.

    The new CompTIA Strata IT Fundamentals certification focuses on the entire horizon of how the IT industry works -- what virtualization is and why encryption is important, Stanger said, for business executives to contextualize IT changes.

    "If you structure IT correctly, it cuts costs and lets you innovate and change faster," Koomey added.Eliminate the notion of the data center as a cost center, and think of it instead as a profit center, said Jonathan Koomey, Ph.D., research fellow at the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University.

    He suggests developing metrics that allow executives to understand how IT costs affect business outcomes. With a set of key performance indicators that everyone agrees on, you can bridge the less tangible cultural divide between IT and business partners.

    "EBay developed metrics so the business understood their cost per server, cost per transaction, for example," Koomey said. "The project exposed how some in management didn't understand IT, which was frustrating at the time but led to more efficient operations."

    Data center managers are smart, but they can't fix fundamental problems such as how budgets are structured, Koomey added, which is why he teaches "Data Center Essentials for Executives" with Ann Arbor, Michigan-based training institute HeatSpring and the Datacenter Dynamics events company. The course focuses on all of IT and how to design productivity and cost measurements that matter, then drive these metrics down to the project level so everyone is in sync.EBay went from having 90 server options to just two, as well as an internal cloud that could host modest projects within minutes. That simplification translated into drastically shorter provisioning times, which gave the company a competitive advantage, Koomey said.

    Arbitrary metrics waste money, Koomey added. A CEO cannot come in and ask for lower PUE without considering the broader implications, which could actually raise ongoing costs. The goal should be lowest power consumption per IT transaction, for example, not hitting the lowest PUE at all costs. Don't just measure -- define the right things to measure for your business, he said.

    A simple communication change that the experts each agree on: Geteveryone important to the data center into the same room when discussing a major project. Just because you aren't fluent yet doesn't mean you can't begin communicating.

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    Sustainability’s strategic worth: McKinsey Global Survey results

    Executives at all levels see an important business role for sustainability. But when it comes to mastering the reputation, execution, and accountability of their sustainability programs, many companies have far to go.

    Company leaders are rallying behind sustainability, and executives overall believe the issue is increasingly important to their companies’ strategy. But as it continues to grow into a core business issue, challenges to capturing its full value lie ahead. These are among the key findings from our most recent McKinsey survey on the topic,1 which asked respondents about the actions their companies are taking to address environmental, social, or governance issues, the practices they use to manage sustainability, and the value at stake.

    One such challenge is reputation management. Year over year, large shares of executives cite reputation as a top reason their companies address sustainability; of the 13 core activities we asked about, they say reputation has the most value potential for their industries. However, many of this year’s respondents say their companies are not pursuing the reputation-building activities that would maximize that financial value.
    Comparing companies with the most effective sustainability programs (our sustainability “leaders”) with others in their industries highlights another obstacle: incorporating sustainability into key organizational processes, such as performance management, one area where the leaders report better results than others. Beyond strong performance on processes, the leaders share other characteristics that are keys to a successful sustainability program—among them, aggressive goals (both internal and external), a focused strategy, and broad leadership buy-in.

    Sustainability rising

    According to executives, sustainability is becoming a more strategic and integral part of their businesses. In past surveys, when asked about their companies’ reasons for pursuing sustainability, respondents most often cited cost cutting or reputation management. Now 43 percent (and the largest share) say their companies seek to align sustainability with their overall business goals, mission, or values2 —up from 30 percent who said so in 2012 (Exhibit 1).

    Exhibit 1

    More and more companies are addressing sustainability to align with their business goals.
    One reason for the shift may be that company leaders themselves believe the issue is more important. CEOs are twice as likely as they were in 2012 to say sustainability is their top priority. Larger shares of all other executives also count sustainability as a top three item on their CEOs’ agendas (Exhibit 2).

    Exhibit 2

    Company leaders and all others increasingly see sustainability as a top CEO priority.
    As sustainability rises in significance, capturing its full value grows more challenging—perhaps because the more that companies prioritize sustainability, the more it needs to be integrated into (and even change) the core business. At companies that are already taking action, respondents most often cite challenges related to execution: the absence of performance incentives and the presence of short-term earnings pressure that’s at odds with the longer-term nature of these issues. Accountability is an increasing concern: 34 percent of executives (compared with 23 percent in 2011) say too few people at their companies are accountable for sustainability. At companies that aren’t pursuing sustainability activities, respondents continue to cite a lack of leadership prioritization as the top challenge to taking action.

    Reckoning with reputation

    Of 13 core sustainability activities we asked about, executives most often say their companies are reducing energy use in operations (64 percent), reducing waste (63 percent), and managing their corporate reputations for sustainability (59 percent). These actions were cited most often in 2011 and 2012, and a growing share of executives now identifies reputation management as a core activity. They are also most likely to say that among these activities, reputation management has the highest value-creation potential for their industries over the next five years.
    Yet there’s a lack of clarity around reputation management, compared with other, better-defined activities, such as reaching new markets with sustainable products. We asked executives what actions the companies they work for take to manage their reputations, and, on average, companies most frequently communicate their activities to consumers and maintain stakeholder relationships. Yet the results vary by industry, indicating that companies understand and value reputation in very different ways (Exhibit 3).

    Exhibit 3

    Companies’ current approaches to reputation management vary by industry.
    Many of the differences depend on how much action companies are taking on reputation, and on the overall sustainability agenda. In extractive services, executives say their companies are pursuing seven core sustainability activities, with three-quarters saying reputation management is one of them (compared with 59 percent of all respondents). The reputation-building actions these companies focus on—local community investments, external reporting, and employee volunteering—differ, then, from those of their peers in high tech, where companies take an average of five actions and just half of respondents say reputation management is one of them. These results confirm that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to reputation, possibly one reason why reputation, like sustainability more broadly, is hard for many companies to manage.
    When asked which activities maximize financial value, respondents most often cite customer communications. Beyond that, there are disparities between current reputation-management activities and the ones that are most critical to value creation (Exhibit 4). These results also vary by industry and reflect the importance of understanding and communicating sustainability’s financial value, from the leadership down. In extractive services, where the board and C-suite are most engaged and respondents are the most likely to expect that sustainability will create value, respondents identify the same activity (community investment) as a current action and a source of value. In contrast, those in financial services—where respondents report the lowest level of leader engagement and perceived value—most often cite employee volunteering, the activity they rank lowest with respect to value creation.

    Exhibit 4

    The reputation-management activities viewed as most important are not necessarily the most pursued.

    What leadership looks like

    Regardless of a company’s industry, its value-creation efforts require certain organizational traits. From our experience and previous work,3 we identified a few as the building blocks of a successful sustainability program. Indeed, when we identified our sustainability leaders—companies where executives report the strongest performance on core sustainability activities, relative to industry peers—we found that they share these characteristics.
    It’s not surprising that leaders are much likelier than other companies to possess all 12 of these characteristics, though the results suggest which traits differentiate leaders from the rest (Exhibit 5). Executives at these companies are almost five times more likely than others to say they use aggressive external goals for sustainability, more than three times likelier to report a focused strategy, and nearly three times likelier to report an organization-wide understanding of sustainability’s financial benefits. In addition, leaders more often have in place the key components of performance management, such as aggressive internal goals and broad leadership coalitions to develop their programs.4

    Exhibit 5

    Sustainability ‘leaders’ set themselves apart through target setting and a clear strategy.
    What’s more, much larger shares of executives at the leader organizations say their top leaders prioritize sustainability and report higher employee engagement on sustainability at every level, including CEOs, board members, and sustainability advisory committees. They report that their companies are taking more action to manage the life cycles of their products, and are four times more likely than others to say they have already implemented a life-cycle strategy. And they say their companies face fewer barriers to realizing value from sustainability, because they report better overall performance on the practices that underpin a healthy sustainability organization.

    Organizing for sustainability

    To better understand the defining traits of well-performing sustainability programs, we examined the organizational practices that underlie these characteristics. Of these, executives say their companies are better at fostering an organizational culture around sustainability and setting the direction for their programs. They struggle most with components of program execution, including employee motivation, capability building, and coordination of their sustainability work, which is reflected in the responses on specific practices (Exhibit 6). These results make sense, given the current levels of alignment between sustainability and various elements of the organization. Fifty-eight percent of executives say sustainability is fully or mostly integrated into their companies’ culture, compared with 38 percent who say so for performance management.

    Exhibit 6

    Organizations excel at creating a culture and direction for their sustainability programs, but they struggle with elements of execution.
    Looking more closely at individual practices, some interesting patterns emerge. We identified four distinct approaches to the sustainability organization: leader supported, execution focused, externally oriented, and deeply integrated (see sidebar, “Four approaches to the sustainability organization”). The first approach is characterized by actively engaged leaders across the company, employee encouragement, and clear strategy; the second by clear structure, accountability, and middle-manager engagement; the third by the use of external ideas, networks, and relationships, as well as top-leader and middle-manager engagement; and the fourth by employee incentives for sustainability work, a focus on talent, and even engagement on sustainability at all levels of tenure. Our sustainability leaders are represented in each of these four approaches, confirming that there’s no single formula for sustainability success.

    Looking ahead

    • Extend the product life cycle. Today, resource constraints are creating unprecedented prices and volatility in natural-resource markets. Yet the results indicate that most companies have not even begun to implement strategies that extend the life of their products and thereby reduce their resource dependence in a significant way. According to our other research,5there is huge value potential in better design and in the optimization of products for multiple cycles of disassembly and reuse. Forward-looking companies should begin investing in the “circularity” of their products, for the benefit of society and for their bottom line. On materials alone, companies could potentially save more than $1 trillion per year.
    • Look to technology. Similarly, technological advances are creating opportunities to drive sustainability solutions.6 Yet only 36 percent of respondents say their companies are mostly or fully integrating sustainability into their data and analytics work. Companies that want to capture increasing value in a resource-constrained world should spend more time thinking about how to integrate their technological capabilities into their overall sustainability agenda.
    • Focus your strategy. As sustainability becomes more central to the business, companies should align internally on what they stand for and what actions they want to take on these issues, whether it’s economic development or changing business practices. Whatever approach companies take, they should develop a strategy with no more than five clear, well-defined priorities—one of the key factors for successful sustainability programs.

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    How Small Businesses can Beat Inflation

    Are we ready to wrestle with inflation? (courtesy of Alexis Foundation

    “Inflation is when you pay fifteen dollars for the ten-dollar haircut you used to get for five dollars when you had hair.” - Sam Ewing

    Inflation. The sheer mention of the word brings forth shudders.

    An inevitable fact of urban life, inflationary pressures lead to higher living costs. To match the rising costs of living, wages need to increase. With land becoming increasingly scarce, rental rates continue to climb. Utility charges will also head north as fossil fuels run low.

    In tandem with rising labour and fuel costs, transportation and storage charges will similarly increase. Meanwhile, erratic weather patterns and the growing scarcity of natural resources lead to upward spirals in the costs of commodities, raw materials and natural produce.

    How then could businesses hedge themselves against the negative effects of inflation?

    First, find ways to trim "luxurious" business expenses by adopting the principles of bootstrapping. Consider leasing instead of buying machinery and equipment. Buy second hand if necessary. Or bring from home.

    Pool your resources with other small businesses to enjoy economies of scale and greater bargaining power. Leverage on each other's areas of expertise and barter products and services. Undertake joint purchasing, marketing, utility purchases, training and other activities.

    Seek ways to share resources in back-of-the-house areas like office spaces, estates and security, admin, human resources, finance, IT and logistics. If feasible, tap on outsourced service providers to run your backroom, IT, administrative or secretarial functions.

    Embark on strategic sourcing and procurement practices. Constantly evaluate and re-evaluate your suppliers, and find ways to increase value while reducing costs. This includes considering non-traditional sources of goods and services from emerging markets, buying in bulk, or hedging your purchases for more volatile services.

    Forecast demand as accurately as possible so that you can keep inventory costs low. Depending on your nature of business, cater for seasonal peaks and troughs. Consider implementing a Just-In-Time (JIT) system to ensure that stock doesn't build up unnecessarily during low seasons.

    Get your customers and suppliers into the act! Reward them if they DIY. For example, offer a good discount if they can pick up the goods themselves (instead of having it delivered).

    Reduce your running expenses and overheads by re-using, reducing and recycling. Stretch the lifespan of your office equipment, furniture and stationery. However, do not sting so much that working in your office becomes unbearable or customers end up having negative experiences.

    If your business is energy intensive, find ways to incorporate "green" technologies into your building design. These can be anything from air-con chiller systems that recycle heat or save water to tinted glass windows that reduce the greenhouse effect.

    Finally, adjust your prices, but be mindful of how your customers will feel. If possible, introduce sweeteners to cushion the impact of higher prices. An example would be throwing in low cost but high value items into your package of products or services.

    Are there other ways to beat the inflation blues? Share your thoughts in the box below.

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    Ecosystem Guide: The 12 Players of the Collaborative Economy

    The Collaborative Economy is a complex ecosystem composed of many unique players.
    It’s a complex ecosystem with many players jostling about, partnering, competing, and disrupting each other. It’s key to understand the many players in this movement before blindly stumbling in. This post took me weeks to prepare. It’s my attempt to catalogue a very complex market that has broad, global economic impacts being felt by many people. By no means is this market breakdown complete, so I seek your feedback in the comments.
    There’s a wide range of ideologies, from left-wing sharing communes, to incumbents resisting the movement, to capitalist investors, to right-wing republicans seeking free market economics, to libertarians seeking as little government as possible. There are environmentalists, people’s rights activists, technologists, government regulators, and everything in between. There’s also a wide range from billionaire investors to home owners who’re renting out their homes to evade foreclosure.
    It’s impossible to analyze this market and expect to put each person into one single box. Life is complex, and nearly every person can fit into multiple categories. The sections below are categorized into four major groups: 1) The People, 2) Technologists, 3) The Established and 4) The Influencers. Each specific group contains a breakdown of its constituents. Thanks to Robin Chase, who provided additional insight into the nonprofits in the space.

    Ecosystem Guide: The 12 Players of the Collaborative Economy

    Times Square Crowd
    The People
    Players Examples What they want What no one tells you
    Providers Makers, Airbnb hosts, Uber drivers, Lyft friends, TaskRabbits and others who provide services, space or resources to others. They seek to make a living, to have a lifestyle where they control their own destiny and have the rights and benefits that should accompany doing so. They’re potentially at risk of not being insured, protected or providing benefits similar jobs have. Expect them to move closer to organizations, like the Freelancers Union, which offer health and wellness services, retirement options and other resources.
    Partakers People who buy Etsy goods, Airbnb guests, Uber riders, Lyft passengers and others who purchase the services from Providers. Our research found that these folks seek ease of use and pricing above all, followed by unique experiences and achieving altruism by helping others or participating in a more sustainable lifestyle. Our research found that the rate of adoption will double this year alone, with more folks using these services sooner than previously thought.
    Displaced Taxi drivers, hotel workers, traditional manufacturers, and others who are losing their jobs as providers assume their positions. Want their jobs, rights, and lives back. In some cases they’ve taken to protestsviolence or joining unions. Many taxi drivers have become Uber or Lyft drivers because of the opportunity to achieve a more flexible schedule, although their rights, wages and benefits are still up for discussion.
    Non Profits, NGOs The Freelancers UnionShareable,Sustainable Economies Law Center, OuiShare,People who Share, and Peers. Focused on the empowerment of people or advancing sustainability, these offer education, resources, and more to this growing market. These groups are pro-movement, but many are partnered with the startups (Platforms) and large corporations to yield benefits, as well as work closely with regulators to drive action and change.
    The Technologists
    The Players Examples What they want What no one tells you
    Platforms The startups. Airbnb, Lyft, Etsy, TaskRabbit, oDesk, Uber, Lending Club and more. There are over 9000 startups, many regionalized in specific countries or cities. They want to provide a scalable, two-sided marketplace of buyers and sellers offering value added services. They must protect their interests, those of the partakers and providers. Many are heavily VC funded and have goals for adoption and valuation. These startups are less altruistic than one may think. Advocates have criticized them for becoming the new lords of feudalism. There are over 9,000 startups, as indexed by the Mesh Directory, hosted by industry leader, Lisa Gansky.
    Investors Angels who’re getting the platform going, traditional VCs, often from Sand Hill, and Corporate Venturing, like Google Ventures, who’s invested in Uber. In the last 8 months alone, there’s been over $2.5b of funding, with over $2B the years before. Maximum return on their investments. VCs are known to often want to achieve 5-10X return after 5-10 years of investment. The requirement for return on equity puts pressure on Platforms to monetize the marketplaces they manage, which, critics suggest, will minimize the abilities of both providers and partakers.
    Advocates Sharing advocates include both lobbyists hired by the Platforms and non-profits like Peers. To achieve market acceptance of the benefits of the maker movement, sharing and the impact it has on society, people and the global economy. They seek to educate, foster grassroots and lobbying support, and achieve change from the established. There’s been scrutiny about where funding actually comes from in this category. It’s quite clear that Uber has hired traditional DC lobbyists to advocate for their issues to regulators at the federal level.
    Chicago Skyscraper
     The Established
    The Players Examples What they want What no one tells you
    Incumbent Corporations Taxis, hotels, banks, retail, consumer goods and more. To protect and advance their business models. There have been over 90 instances of traditional corporations who’ve deployed in the collaborative economy (see timeline graphic). At the same time, a lobbying group for hoteliers has formed to battle Airbnb specifically.
    Lobbyists Hoteliers and taxi commissions have formed associations or hired lobbyists. To protect the interests and rights of the industries, owners or workers they represent and to ensure a level playing field so that startups do not gain an unfair advantage by avoiding regulations and taxes paid by incumbents. Multiple journalists have told me that advocates and lobbyists against the movement provide them with stories, data, and research, both for and against this movement.
    Governments Municipal, state and federal governments and departments, like the California Public Utilities Commission or the European Union. To find the balance between supporting innovation and new business models, while, at the same time, protecting the vested interests of industries, current systems, safety and security and to yield taxable monies. Governments are not all reacting the alike. Some cities adopt quickly. To wit, Airbnb now pays 14% hotel tax to the city of SF. Some cities ban it all together, as Vegas has banned all ride sharing. Feds are also looking at the issues of crowd-based funding and of crowd-created currencies like Bitcoin.
    The Influencers
    The Constituents Examples What they want What no one tells you
    Press and Media The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Salon, TechCrunch, INC, Wired and SFGate, have deployed journalists and columns dedicated to this topic. To be the leading coverage of this new market as it breaks, providing insight to the impacts and outcomes. This industry recognizes and distinguishes disruption from collaboration. It was disrupted from peer-to-peer social media over the past 15 years. Now it reports by having adapted to P2P.
    Thought Leaders Lisa GanskyNeal GorenfloMark HatchRachel BotsmanChris AndersonDale DoughertyRobin ChaseArun Sundararajan,Jeremy Rifkin, and many, many others. To lead the discussion in the market about the benefits and risks of these global and economic changes. Their business models tend to inform and influence by means of writing, speaking, consulting, forming associations, and advancing their investment portfolios. This is just the start. Expect a wave of thousands of Collaborative experts to emerge, just as we saw the rise of ninjas, gurus, and samurai in the social media space.

    Closing Thoughts and a Request for Feedback

    In the future, we should expect new players to emerge as unions form for worker rights or new co-ops that enable a new type of startup that straddles both technology and people. Use this guide to help maneuver this ecosystem, rather than blindly charging in. Conducting this market breakdown isn’t easy and the results are not necessarily perfect. I look forward to your feedback in the below comments.

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    Motivating Students: Should Effort Count?
    Should we try grading effort?... And Yes... Why not ???

    I've always said no, effort shouldn't count. When students pleaded, "but I worked so hard," or "I studied so long," I would respond with the clichéd quip about people with brain tumors not wanting surgeons who try hard. Besides if students try hard, if they do their assignments, come to class, take notes, ask questions, and study on more nights than the one before the exam, that effort will pay off. They will learn the material, and their grades will reflect that learning. 

    That's what I've always believed, but here's what's troubling me. Most students want to get grades with the least amount of effort. If they can get an A or B with an hour or two of studying once a week, or by doing nothing until the night before the exam or paper is due, that's how much effort they'll make. Unless students fall madly in love with the content, most won't expend any more energy than they need to. 

    Then there are those students who aren't well prepared for the rigors of college—the ones who need to exert a lot of effort—and who really don't believe that effort will make a difference. They think learning is all about natural ability and maybe they just don't have what it takes. 

    In both cases, the question is the same: how do we motivate students to put forth the effort—to go beyond the minimum in the first case, and to try, multiples times and in multiple ways, before concluding that effort is always trumped by ability in the second. 

    A small institution with open admissions and a student body with low graduation rates instituted a unique grading system for first- and second-year courses. Students got two grades in each of these courses: one for content knowledge (measured in the traditional ways with exams, papers, projects, etc) and one for effort (measured by things like attendance, meeting deadlines, participating in class, etc). Content knowledge was weighted at 40% of the course grade and effort at 60% for first-year courses. Those amounts were reversed for second-year courses and no effort grades after that. Professors were allowed to define effort so long as the definitions were clear and communicated directly to students. 

    The paper reporting on the system analyzed the effort-learning-grade relationship differently than previous research (more robustly, according to the researcher who offers justification for that claim). The finding is as we'd expect: "the effort grade affects the knowledge grade positively and significantly. This is strong evidence that more student effort does lead to increased learning." (p. 1182)

    That's not surprising to faculty, but it probably was to these low-achieving students who discovered that effort did make a difference. When they tried hard, they got results. 

    Of course, a system like this is using grades to motivate effort, and that's much like trying to cure obesity with more food. Students are already way too grade oriented. I used to try to challenge those students who were doing the minimum by trying to make them aware of how much more they could do. "If you put the pedal to the metal, how fast could you go? You've got a big brain motor why are you always running it half speed?" I'd suggest really studying for an exam in a course with content they cared about or spending time on a paper for three days instead of one evening. I'd try to make them understand it was about something beyond the grade. "You get decent grades without a lot of effort so you're not doing this for grades. You're doing this because you need to know what you can do." Some took me up on this; a lot more shrugged shoulders and smiled, albeit somewhat sheepishly. 

    Every now and then, a student excels – or maybe it's a handful of students who surpass all expectations. They write a truly memorable paper, get a perfect exam score, or produce an amazing project. We are stunned by their success and even more importantly, so are they. They can't believe what they accomplished. But this doesn't happen nearly as often as it should, and the challenge remains as to how we can get more of this kind of success in the classroom. Should we try grading effort? 

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    Chief digital officer vs. chief data officer: Who will win the day?

    Will the chief digital officer outlive the chief data officer? Where should data experts draw the line in the sand on data quality? The Data Mill reports.

    Two emerging titles are gaining momentum -- and contributing to IT acronym confusion. Though the roles are different, both the chief digital officer and the chief data officer are the CDOs of the executive site -- but for how long? According to Jill Dyché, vice president of best practices at SAS Institute Inc., one CDO may be poised for greater success than the other.

    "With the chief digital officer, the metrics are clearer," she said. Chief digital officers push the digital envelope, especially as it relates to customer-facing initiatives. Chief data officers, on the other hand, align strategy to data," Dyché said. "[This means assembling the right people] in a data governance framework that culturally exists." Customer champion vs. traffic cop -- put that way, she's probably correct.

    Longevity notwithstanding, neither title is tasked with a simple agenda. But for the digital officer, the tasks at hand are crystalized and better appreciated outside IT circles. "Nowadays, everyone can point to an example of a digital innovation: streaming movies, product recommendations on my phone, the advent of the 'smart car' and the 'smart home.' There's clarity around digital opportunities, and people are eager to collaborate on what those look like," Dyché said.

    Even the mechanics of how the business will get there are clearer. "[With digital objectives] we understand that some of this has to be done in the cloud. We understand that we want to do more omnichannel outreach. So you can look at the strategy and see where digital fits," she said.

    The chief data officer's work is also crucial to business success, but not as well-defined and not nearly as well understood by the business, Dyché said. Business folks want to get their hands on data, but they're also shielded from the complexity of "accessing, correcting, integrating, deploying and governing" it, she said. They consider data governance a custodial function, if they think about it all -- best taken care of by someone else.

    "The value and ROI discussions for data management are just harder," Dyché said. "The phenomenon is if we hire that warm body, they'll fix all of the problems." Unless the business understands the enormity and importance of the task, however, the chief data officer runs the risk of being viewed as very expensive janitor.

    On the other hand, the chief digital officer role is viewed by some CDOs as stepping stone to even higher ground. At the Chief Digital Officer Summit in New York City last April, David Mathison, founder of the CDO Club and summit curator, shared research documenting a trend of digital officers moving into the chief executive role. In the 2014 Chief Digital Officer Talent Map, Mathison pointed to seven digital officers who transitioned to the CEO role -- a "staggering figure, considering there are just a few hundred CDOs to date," he noted in a blog post. According to the report, more than 60% of digital officers in the advertising industry, and more than 30% of digital officers in media, "had previous experience as CEO, president, general manager or executive director."

    Drawing the line on data quality

    When data broker Acxiom launched its site a year ago, the company expected to run into some data quality issues. What it possibly didn't foresee were the debates those data quality issues would spark.

    AboutTheData is a platform that enables consumers to see and even edit some of the data Acxiom has collected on them, gathered from public sources or things like magazine subscriptions. The data broker analyzes and sells that information for use in marketing offers and target advertisement campaigns. The site was launched in an effort to create more transparency around marketing data, as well as better accuracy of the data. One objective, according to a press release, is to give consumers a channel to amend the data "to better reflect their likes and dislikes, resulting in more relevant advertising." About 10% of visitors change some piece of data, while only 2% opt out completely, Jennifer Glasgow, global privacy and public policy executive at Acxiom, said at the recent MIT Chief Data Officer and Information Quality Symposium.

    However, when it comes to age, the company decided the best data doesn't necessarily have to be the most accurate data. If Acxiom has a reliable date of birth and knows the consumer is 45 years old, what should the company do if a consumer comes to the site and changes his or her age to 35? "We had a spirited debate inside the company about what's the right answer to that question," Glasgow said.

    Acxiom ultimately decided that was allowable. If the consumer wants to be marketed to like he or she is 35 years old, "maybe that's a better answer than knowing their actual age," Glasgow said. After all, you're only as old as you feel.

    View at the original source

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    Climbing Down from the Ivory Tower

    Nava Ashraf explains why it makes sense for field researchers to co-produce knowledge with the people they study and serve.

    In the late 1970s, the Chicago Police Department noticed that the city's crime rate increased when cops stopped walking the beat and started driving around in patrol cars instead. They wondered why, and asked the political scientist Elinor Olstrom to provide some insight.
    She realized the problem: Cars negated the ability to interact with people on the streets. As it turned out, cops did a better job fighting crime when they sought input from the public. That had happened organically when they walked their beats. And by sharing their knowledge of the neighborhood, the citizens helped the police to protect the citizens. Olstrom dubbed the phenomenon "co-production."
    Since then, it has become common for organizations to treat consumers as production partners. Many high-tech firms hire existing customers to beta-test early versions of products, in order to get critical feedback before creating the final versions. Some companies even base their business model on co-production; Build-a-Bear stores allow consumers to create personalized teddy bears.
    "With the growth of customizable technology, there is an appreciation of this co-generation process in many, many domains," says Nava Ashraf, an associate professor in the Negotiations, Organizations, and Markets unit at Harvard Business School.
    But there's a dearth of co-production in the public health sector, which often depends entirely on faraway academics and organizations to solve local problems. This frustrates Ashraf, who for more than a decade has studied behavioral economics in the context of developing countries. She believes that global health researchers and public health workers should make a point of co-producing knowledge with those who will most benefit from it: the residents of the communities they study.
    "The common process of thinking is that from over here in our ivory tower at Harvard, we are supposed to find the knowledge, bestow the knowledge to people on the other side of the world, and get them to apply it and disseminate it," she says. "That seems kind of wrong."
    Recognizing the importance of knowledge co-production can lead not only to successful products and services, but also to improved supply chain and delivery strategies. She justifies the importance of co-production in her elective course, Managing Global Health: Applying Behavioral Economics to Create Impact, which she teaches to second-year MBA students at HBS and select students from Harvard Medical School and the Kennedy School of Government.


    The course begins with a case in which UNICEF tries to understand why there are so many diarrhea-related fatalities in developing countries. (Diarrheal diseases account for one in nine child deaths worldwide, according to the Center for Disease Control.) This, despite the existence of an effective treatment called oral rehydration therapy, which essentially involves drinking a solution of water, salt, sugar, and supplemental zinc.
    The students soon realize that UNICEF and the World Health Organization have failed to consider the problem from the end-users' perspective. ORT, which provides life-saving rehydration, does not actually eliminate diarrhea, so it's hard for parents to tell whether it's working. The ORT solution tastes awful, like salty metal, so many children refuse to drink it. And pharmacists tend not to suggest ORT to mothers because they don't consider it to be "real medicine," the case explains.
    Ashraf believes these oversights could have been prevented if parents and local health care workers had been involved in designing a solution. Indeed, oral rehydration therapy was successful in countries like Bangladesh, where cooperation among field workers, scientists, and mothers led to a very effective program. She cites Atul Gawande, who explained one program's progress in a 2013 New Yorker article:
    "The field workers soon realized that having the mothers make the solution themselves was more effective than just showing them. The workers began looking for diarrhea cases when they arrived in a village, and treating them to show how effective and safe the remedy was. The scientists also investigated various questions that came up, such as whether clean water was required. (They found that, although boiled water was preferable, contaminated water was better than nothing.)"
    "It's too common to think, we have the technology and we have the systems, and they'd work if only people would use them," Ashraf says. "But in doing that, we're not realizing that they should be part of the process. Asking them to apply something that's been generated somewhere else isn't involving them in the process."


    Out of the classroom, Ashraf has been walking the talk by incorporating co-production into her own field research.
    In 2010 Ashraf was part of a research team that helped the Zambian government with a nascent national program to recruit, train, and employ community health workers throughout the country, which was suffering from a severe lack of health care providers. The goal was to employ 5,000 new community health workers by 2015. The challenge was figuring out how to recruit a talented, dedicated cadre of people who wanted to serve their local communities.
    Often, academic field researchers design an experiment among themselves, only going to the field when they're ready to conduct the experiment on members of the community. In this case, though, the academics designed an experiment with the head of policy development for the Zambia Ministry of Health, along with several other local officials. The academics came armed with knowledge of prior research. The local officials had practical knowledge of the community.
    Co-production is a tricky endeavor for scholars. It's time-consuming to incorporate everyone's input, especially when working with people who are unfamiliar with standard research rules. It took nearly four years to design the health care worker recruitment experiment, Ashraf notes.
    "It's challenging to balance the rigor of science and objectivity with the participation of the people we're studying," she says. "But sometimes it makes sense to have people participate in running the experiment, not only because they're the ones who can benefit most from the results, but because it's better for knowledge. At every step you can say, 'Look at the data. What do you think of this?' And their input is so important. Because in these cases, they're the ones who are the real experts, you know?"
    In the eventual field experiment, researchers launched two recruitment campaigns. Each targeted half of 48 randomly selected rural districts across the country. In 24 districts, potential employees were wooed with posters and brochures emphasizing community service. In the other 24, the material emphasized career advancement.
    The campaigns drew two distinct groups of candidates. While the career advancement campaign attracted a group that had more qualifications and was more technically knowledgeable, both campaigns attracted candidates with equally high levels of pro-social motivation. The researchers followed the health workers' progress for 18 months when they returned to their communities to provide health services.
    It turned out career-focused applicants visited 29 percent more households than did community-focused candidates, and conducted over twice as many community mobilization meetings, while seeing approximately the same number of patients at the health posts. Both groups spent the same amount of time at each household, meaning the career group wasn't sacrificing quality time for quantity. And the employee retention rate was similar in both groups.
    The researchers detail their findings in the paper, "Do-Gooders and Go-Getters: Career Incentives, Selection, and Performance in Public Service Delivery." The key takeaway in the paper: "Career incentives, far from selecting the 'wrong' types, attract talented workers to the public sector who deliver health services effectively."
    But there's another takeaway for Ashraf, whose current research involves co-producing studies with urban planners in sub-Saharan Africa.
    "We show academics that you can actually generate good science while also having impact on good policy," she says, "even though it's a little more labor intensive and might take longer."

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    lone solo businessman

    You don’t need a co-founder for your startup

    Barnett is the founder of Priority Pickup, an Australia based online passenger services company that offers private chauffeur rentals to customers in Perth, Western Australia. 

    One of the most frequently asked questions when I go to startup events here in Perth is why I do not have a co-founder for my business. At the outset, having a business partner makes perfect sense. I am not a technology guy myself. My primary role in business is to sign up new contractors and in ensuring that my customers are happy.

    I would be lying if I told you that the thought of having a co-founder who can take care of all the technology or marketing tasks has never crossed my mind.
    1. So why haven’t I explored my network for someone who could join me as a co-founder? Here are some reasons why:

    Partnership is based on trust

    This is pretty obvious. You cannot have someone you barely know as a co-founder simply because they are the best developer or marketing person you know.
    Any partnership needs to be based on trust. Having said that, I have always believed that friendship and money do not mix. It was a huge burden in the beginning as I had to multi-task and coordinate on several aspects, but this has paid off in the long run.
    No matter how good your pre-nups are with your co-founder, there is a good chance you might disagree with them on something or the other. Some people can manage this well together, but if you’re not the type, this is a headache that you must avoid if you can.

    It makes business sense

    So why exactly are you in business? A passion for your work or a mission to create a difference can be true in a lot of cases, but making money is definitely a factor for most successful businesses.
    Be honest with yourself. If that is the case, owning the company yourself earns you the most money. Every partner you add to your business results in your own share holding in the company drop. Think about this carefully before adding another partner.
    broken piggy bank 730x372 You dont need a co founder for your startup

    Contracting is cheaper

    I have a pretty good working relationship with my developer and marketing team. But I’ve not met them even once. All of our work gets done online and through emails.
    Contracting is cheaper since it costs me just a few hundred dollars every month to have them on a retainer basis. Even if I continue with this model for the next five years, it will still be cheaper than having a co-founder who would not only claim a higher pay, but would also enjoy a huge chunk of share-holding.

    Co-founders aren’t required all the time

    In my business, there are not enough things to keep a technical co-founder busy. Yes, things were pretty chaotic in the initial days. But now, once the technology is in place, we do not have enough tasks to keep working on.
    If I had partnered with a technical co-founder, they might find themselves irrelevant at this point in time. Such a scenario is true for a lot of businesses where most of everyday tasks are low-level in nature that can easily be outsourced.
    This does not mean you shouldn’t have a tech-savvy co-founder, but you should only have a one when you know both of you would have something to keep working on all the time. A bootstrapped startup may not always be the right place to have people with limited skills and not enough work to do.
    Founding a startup independently has worked for me, but it’s clear that not all businesses can afford this luxury. The above may not be applicable to all businesses. But given a choice between owning a business with a co-founder and owning another without one, I would still go for one that gives me complete control.
    Truly, it will depend on your business; but if people are telling you that you must have a co-founder for your business, think twice about what you are looking to accomplish before giving away control.

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    Why Disruptive Innovation Can Help Market Leaders

    Talk to any CEO about what haunts them the most and disruptive innovation will be at the top of the list. It is a logical fear: A company whose existence depends on established technologies could face extinction or loss of market leadership if a revolutionary innovation comes along. Just ask smartphone maker BlackBerry after Apple launched the iPhone.
    But a study soon to be published in Management Science discovered that disruptive innovations need not lead to an incumbent’s fall, despite prevailing academic theory arguing otherwise. The paper, “Dynamic Commercialization Strategies for Disruptive Technologies: Evidence from the Speech Recognition Industry,” was authored by Wharton management professor David Hsu, Matthew Marx, a professor of technological innovation, entrepreneurship and strategic management at MIT, and Joshua Gans, a professor of strategic management at the University of Toronto.
    Indeed, the authors discovered that start-ups introducing disruptive technologies with long-term potential are more likely to end up licensing to incumbents or agreeing to be acquired rather than turning into rivals. While these start-ups would initially compete with established firms, the motivation is to prove the worth of their innovation to a skeptical industry that has not seen it before.
    But once the technology is proven, among other factors, start-ups tend to form alliances or merge with market leaders — pursuing what is called a cooperative commercialization strategy — thus preserving the status quo. “This result calls into question the notion that disruptive technologies necessarily result in the demise of incumbents,” the researchers write.
    The Siri Approach
    Consider Vlingo, the authors say: Five years before Apple’s Siri personal digital assistant service was released as an iPhone app, Vlingo was already demonstrating a similar “grammar-free” speech recognition technology for phones in which a person did not have to say certain groups of pre-arranged words to be understood.
    “The static view of, ‘We’re just going to make one choice of strategy as a start-up and we’ll stick to that,’ is quite an unrealistic one as we compare it to practice.”
    Back then, Vlingo was different in that its technology was software-based and embedded in a mobile app at a time when most speech recognition features were built into the phone hardware itself through a special chip, meaning functionality was limited to such things as dialing phone numbers by voice. Vlingo went to market as a competitor to prove its technology, and then later switched business strategies by licensing to device manufacturers.
    The authors found out that many disruptive start-ups take the same path as Vlingo after examining data on hundreds of speech recognition companies worldwide spanning nearly six decades. They call a start-up’s switch from competition to cooperation with incumbents a “dynamic technology commercialization strategy.” Such a view stands in contrast to existing academic literature, which assumes that a start-up stays on one path.
    “The static view of, ‘We’re just going to make one choice of strategy as a start-up and we’ll stick to that,’ is quite an unrealistic one as we compare it to practice,” Hsu notes. Start-ups with new, unproven technologies tend to have issues with credibility and could have a tough time attracting investments from incumbents, at least initially. But once the fledgling firm’s technology is proven to be viable, incumbents will be more willing to invest. At this stage, a start-up is more likely to change course and license its innovation or sell itself, the authors say.
    According to the researchers, one reason why the switching strategy had not been considered by other academics was the lack of lengthy records tracking start-ups as they grew and evolved. To remedy that, Marx and his research assistants manually pored through 15,000 pages of trade journals and other sources to track all companies entering the automatic speech recognition, or ASR, industry from its birth in 1952 to the end of 2010. “The paper not only talks about this on a theoretical basis … it actually, importantly, validates it in the data,” Hsu says.
    Switching Gears
    The authors chose the automatic speech recognition industry as their test bed because it is a market where neither a cooperative nor competitive strategy dominates. Also, start-ups that choose to enter the ASR market alone will find it relatively feasible because the costs and complexity to do so are not as daunting as those for other industries, such as automotive or biotech.
    The takeaway for disruptive start-ups is to factor in the possibility early on that their strategy could change. But not many entrepreneurs think this way.
    Moreover, the level of innovation is high with companies having filed more than 3,000 ASR patents, but “considerable uncertainty” still surrounds the value of new technology, they write. In part, that is because these companies all claim to have 99% accuracy, so it is hard to pick the true winners. These potentially disruptive innovations include software-only technologies; word-spotting, which locks onto keywords instead of capturing all of the words to decipher speech, and grammar-free recognition similar to what Vlingo uses.
    Hsu, Marx and Gans tracked the progress of 579 privately held, innovative ASR-related start-ups over nearly six decades, focusing on their commercialization strategies. Did they go to market alone, or did they cooperate with their larger rivals by licensing their technology or agreeing to be acquired? Did they stick to their initial strategy or switch after a while? What are the implications for incumbents, which might by wary and fearful of new technologies?
    In the study, 60% of the firms started out competing in the market while 38% cooperated with market leaders. The other 2% adopted a hybrid strategy. A fifth of the start-ups pioneered or became early adopters of software-only technologies, word-spotting or grammar-free recognition — the three innovations the authors focused on. All started out with one innovation, but some later incorporated more than one. For example, Voice Control Systems began with word-spotting and added a software-only approach several years later, the paper says.
    The researchers find that early adopters of disruptive technology were much less likely to cooperate with incumbents, with only 21% doing so, compared with 36% of start-ups whose businesses were based on existing technologies. But early adopters or disruptors were more likely to switch from a competitive to a cooperative strategy: 12.7% did so, versus 7.8% for non-disruptors. (The switch from a cooperative to a competitive strategy was not meaningfully different between the two groups.)
    From Underdog to Top Performer
    But the path to success for a disrupting technology is not without bumps. Indeed, the authors write that disruptive technologies initially underperform existing technologies before eventually outperforming them as the innovation improves. For example, when the 5.25-inch disk drive came out, it had lower capacity, slower access speed and was more expensive than existing eight-inch disk drives. This underperformance led minicomputer manufacturers at first to reject it. But as the smaller disk drive improved, it came to dominate the market.
    “There may be 30 start-ups out there trying different disruptive or potentially disruptive technologies. So, incumbents can take this wait-and-see approach” – Matthew Marx       The same goes for the speech recognition industry. Hsu, Marx and Gans measured the performance of ASR companies using vocabulary size instead of accuracy because everyone claims to be similarly accurate. By the authors’ measure, the more words and phrases an ASR technology can identify, the better it performed. The study found out that start-ups with potentially disruptive technology had half the initial vocabulary size of incumbents and thus underperformed. And just like in the disk-drive market, market leaders at first rejected it.
    However, a truly disruptive innovation later gains ground, they note. The authors analyzed the financial performance of disruptor ASR start-ups and compared them to rivals that used the prevailing technology. The new firms started out with comparatively low sales per employee but eventually would surpass their competitors. “Thus, it appears that disruptive ASR technologies, though they initially trade off performance, indeed improve over time,” the researchers write.
    The takeaway for disruptive start-ups is to factor in the possibility early on that their strategy could change. But not many entrepreneurs think this way, Marx notes. Too often, their idea of strategic change means building multiple versions of their product to see which ones people will like the most. Some firms do end up switching to a cooperative strategy, but only after they “stumble onto it,” he says.
    Advice for Incumbents
    Hsu adds that the paper deviates from the principles of the “lean start-up” movement, which advocates that fledging firms continually get feedback from consumers as they develop products or services. Instead, the authors recognize that a disruptive innovation might not get much public support at first because it is so new. “It’s compounded when you are trying to do something radical,” he says. Thus, the start-up should earn credibility by commercializing its technology. “[By doing so] you have told the marketplace and the incumbents, ‘This is not just us talking, this thing is real,’” Hsu notes. “Now, everyone comes to the table.”
    From the incumbents’ point of view, there are legitimate reasons for rejecting a new technology. If it underperforms, there is no business case for adopting it unless there is improvement. Moreover, if the innovation is truly different, then the incumbent would have to overhaul its systems and operations to adopt it. That means high integration costs — and another reason to be wary of new innovation. But market leaders would be willing to make changes if a new technology proves to be truly disruptive and the term benefits are worth it, the researchers say.
    To be sure, incumbents could be tempted to set up their own internal innovation labs to develop disruptive technologies themselves. But it is tough to spot a winner: “It’s actually a hard thing to do,” Marx notes. “You sort of have to predict the future. What we’re saying is, you don’t have to predict the future. There may be 30 start-ups out there trying different disruptive or potentially disruptive technologies. So, you can take this wait-and-see approach Twitter ” until the market shakes out, then license or acquire the winning technology.   Reproduced from Knowledge @ Wharton

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    Using the Balanced Scorecard as a Strategic Management System

    Editor’s Note: In 1992, Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton’s concept of the balanced scorecard revolutionized conventional thinking about performance metrics. By going beyond traditional measures of financial performance, the concept has given a generation of managers a better understanding of how their companies are really doing.

    These nonfinancial metrics are so valuable mainly because they predict future financial performance rather than simply report what’s already happened. This article, first published in 1996, describes how the balanced scorecard can help senior managers systematically link current actions with tomorrow’s goals, focusing on that place where, in the words of the authors, “the rubber meets the sky.”

    As companies around the world transform themselves for competition that is based on information, their ability to exploit intangible assets has become far more decisive than their ability to invest in and manage physical assets. Several years ago, in recognition of this change, we introduced a concept we called the balanced scorecard. The balanced scorecard supplemented traditional financial measures with criteria that measured performance from three additional perspectives—those of customers, internal business processes, and learning and growth. (See the exhibit “Translating Vision and Strategy: Four Perspectives.”) It therefore enabled companies to track financial results while simultaneously monitoring progress in building the capabilities and acquiring the intangible assets they would need for future growth. The scorecard wasn’t a replacement for financial measures; it was their complement.

    Recently, we have seen some companies move beyond our early vision for the scorecard to discover its value as the cornerstone of a new strategic management system. Used this way, the scorecard addresses a serious deficiency in traditional management systems: their inability to link a company’s long-term strategy with its short-term actions.

    Most companies’ operational and management control systems are built around financial measures and targets, which bear little relation to the company’s progress in achieving long-term strategic objectives. Thus the emphasis most companies place on short-term financial measures leaves a gap between the development of a strategy and its implementation.

    Managers using the balanced scorecard do not have to rely on short-term financial measures as the sole indicators of the company’s performance. The scorecard lets them introduce four new management processes that, separately and in combination, contribute to linking long-term strategic objectives with short-term actions. (See the exhibit “Managing Strategy: Four Processes.”)

    The first new process—translating the vision—helps managers build a consensus around the organization’s vision and strategy. Despite the best intentions of those at the top, lofty statements about becoming “best in class,” “the number one supplier,” or an “empowered organization” don’t translate easily into operational terms that provide useful guides to action at the local level. For people to act on the words in vision and strategy statements, those statements must be expressed as an integrated set of objectives and measures, agreed upon by all senior executives, that describe the long-term drivers of success.

    The second process—communicating and linking—lets managers communicate their strategy up and down the organization and link it to departmental and individual objectives. Traditionally, departments are evaluated by their financial performance, and individual incentives are tied to short-term financial goals. The scorecard gives managers a way of ensuring that all levels of the organization understand the long-term strategy and that both departmental and individual objectives are aligned with it.

    The third process—business planning—enables companies to integrate their business and financial plans. Almost all organizations today are implementing a variety of change programs, each with its own champions, gurus, and consultants, and each competing for senior executives’ time, energy, and resources. Managers find it difficult to integrate those diverse initiatives to achieve their strategic goals—a situation that leads to frequent disappointments with the programs’ results. But when managers use the ambitious goals set for balanced scorecard measures as the basis for allocating resources and setting priorities, they can undertake and coordinate only those initiatives that move them toward their long-term strategic objectives.

    The fourth process—feedback and learning—gives companies the capacity for what we call strategic learning. Existing feedback and review processes focus on whether the company, its departments, or its individual employees have met their budgeted financial goals. With the balanced scorecard at the center of its management systems, a company can monitor short-term results from the three additional perspectives—customers, internal business processes, and learning and growth—and evaluate strategy in the light of recent performance. The scorecard thus enables companies to modify strategies to reflect real-time learning.

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    Shyamsunder: Your name is part of the permanent record‏

    To: Shyamsunder Panchavati
    Organizing for Action
    Shyamsunder -- 

    A few months back, we collected the names of the organizers who helped make health care reform a reality -- our way of marking down in the history books how a grassroots movement made history.

    Shyamsunder, you're a part of this "permanent record" -- and I wanted you to see what we did with it.

    We set out to come up with an installation that anyone can visit, find their name, and reflect on how we came together to help millions of Americans get access to quality, affordable care. That belongs in the history books, so we decided to take that literally.

    It took 76 books to fit more than 400,000 names in the record. Take a look:

    Check out the OFA Victory Wall.

    Check out the OFA Victory Wall.

    Check out the OFA Victory Wall.

    If you want to learn more about how it all came together, check out the blog:

    And next time you're in the neighborhood, be sure to drop in and find your name! 


    Carly Pearlman
    Design Director 
    Organizing for Action 

    P.S. -- I have to share one more photo. The other day, my mom came by to see her own name on the wall. She got so excited that she pulled out her phone and took a picture of her name on the display:

    Check out the OFA Victory Wall.

    Contributions or gifts to Organizing for Action are not tax deductible.

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