Posts Tagged ‘Harvard’

Do you agree with Harvard that global people are more creative?

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

If you work or study abroad you are likely to be more creative, a better problem solver, start new businesses, be a better manager, get promoted and create new products. Provided that you integrate and adapt to the countries where you live and become bi- or multicultural.

Harvard, global citizen, international people, William W. Maddux, Adam D. Galinsky,  Carmit T. Tadmor , Harvard Busines Review, HBR

Do you agree with the professors that the more exposure you get to different situations, problems, scenarios and cultures the more enhanced and creative your ability to solve problems will be?

Harvard Business Review article

According to research carried out by professors William W. Maddux, Adam D. Galinsky, and Carmit T. Tadmor and published in Harvard Business Review “Be a Better Manager: Live Abroad” (if you end up on an ad just click go to site) people who are international or have more than one nationality benefit from it in many ways.

Bicultural individuals scored higher than monoculturals on the different tests carried out which, as the professors put it, is good for companies. That’s not saying that monocultural people don’t have the qualities tested, merely that being international further develop those qualities in an individual. There are also, in my opinon, other ways for monocultural people that are open minded and curious to broaden their mind, be more flexible and hence increase their creativity. The comments to the HBR article agree or disagree depending on if the person has lived abroad or not.

Conclusions a reflection of future businesspeople

Already today the world is irrevocably one global market. Next generation of businesspeople will prove the professors’ findings correct. Already now young people study and work abroad like never before and are fluent in English at an early age.

Local and regional businesses will increasingly start operating on a global level and bi- or multicultural experience will hence gradually increase.

Propitious timing of HBR article

Thinking out of the box is essential in our integrated world and an ability to approach issues from different global perspectives is becoming increasingly important.

Since I have lived and worked all over the world I’m obviously biased. Have just taken the positive aspects of being international for granted and honestly not given it much thought.

The option of academically testing how exposure to different cultures increase your abilities to look at problems from new and previously alien perspectives never even entered my mind.

The world is gradually becoming one huge country and the timing of the findings published in Harvard Business Review are hence propicious. In the future more and more people will look at the world as their market and be prepared to move to the other side of the globe to get a job. If the professors findings contribute to making more people realise the benefits of becoming global citizens it will be beneficial.

Global experience makes you flexible

Have learnt a multitude from various cultures. The most educational experience was Saudi Arabia. Almost every day something happens that you have never experienced before, positive or negative. And frequently it’s simply a question of adapting or failing. The same actually applies to when I lived in Japan, but to a lesser degree.

It was a positive surprise that research published in Harvard Business Review indicate that being a “global citizen” develop your abilities. That not only international but also local businesses will increasingly benefit from global minds.

Do you agree that the world is irrevocably one global market? Will more people live, work and study abroad in the future? Is it a logical step in our integrated world that people increasingly become global citizens? Are the professors findings that global people develop their abilities in ways that benefit companies correct? Will people with a global frame of mind find it easier to get promoted, start a business or create new products? Does your company, as the professors recommend, have expatriate programs to develop better managers? Or maybe you disagree with the professors’ conclusions that the more exposure you get to different situations, problems, scenarios and cultures the more enhanced and creative your ability to solve problems will be?

Photo: Flickr – World Economic Forum

Do you know how to defuse difficult people?

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Neutralising difficult people is crucial not only in business but in all areas of life. Devote 3 minutes to watching Nina Godiwalla, CEO of Mindworks, telling Harvard  how we can change our reaction: 

Nina trains executives and most of them are of the opinion that their biggest challenge is other people’s behavior. Does it sound familiar?

Change your reaction

How you respond to someone’s behavior makes a huge difference. Many times a person initiates a negative message or difficult attitude, just to trigger a response from you. If you react, you actually give them what they want. So stop the cycle of negative snowballing and sell them short on what they’re looking for by simply not responding.

The worst you can do is getting defensive because that'w what they want.

The worst thing you can do is getting defensive because that’s usually what they want.

Don’t get defensive

If you don’t start arguing with someone they usually stop their aggressive behaviour. One way is to just answer with a non-judgmental observation. It’s difficult, I know, because the cause of conflict is the trigger to our emotions and our emotions are what drive us back to our most basic survival instinct i.e. to react and attack back to defend ourselves.

But to counter attack makes it even worse, and is usually what the difficult person wants. So if you answer with an observation the person who attacked you normally backs off. Another way is to ask thoughtful questions to make them aware of what they are doing?

Change poison to nectar

Sometimes it’s possible to completely stun a person trying to pour poison on you. You can do that by complimenting the other person for something or tell them you have learnt from interacting with them. The difficult part about this strategy is to be, or at least appear to be, genuine. It may be difficult to find something positive about the person and you need a poker face to appear genuine.

How do you handle difficult people? Do you get defensive and counter attack? Or have you learnt to change your reaction? Do you realize that frequently difficult people take their own frustrations out on you? Are you able to control your emotions and not respond? Maybe you have even learnt to give them compliments to disarm them? What strategies have enabled you to defuse attackers? 

by Catarina Alexon

Video: Harvard – You Tube

Are grades being inflated?

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Do universities care too much about what students and parents want and give students better grades than they deserve? The Economist takes a quick look at how it works at Ivy League universities:

The video speaks for itself. We have the same phenomena going on in Europe. Even at high schools. Isn’t it better to give students the grades they have earned? Is there a danger that education will lose impact and other qualities becoming more important for succeeding in business? Anna Tavis, head of talent and development at Brown Brothers Harriman is of that opinion.

The best students resent the system that clearly doesn't favour them.

The best students are not happy with the system that works against them.










Do you believe that grades are being inflated to please everyone? Should the best students be disappointed because their grades don’t show how they stand out? Or are students actually getting smarter? So much so that the average grade at Harvard is an A? Do you believe this development is positive for society? Or is it just a way of making student select a university where they will get high grades? What impact will it have on employers? Will it lessen the importance of grades? 

Video: The Economist


Are you a global asset?

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Global experience is more important than education when it comes to succeeding in business, according to Anna Tavis, head of talent and development at Brown Brothers Harriman. If she is right, not only will the way global businesses are run change drastically, a different kind of people will be in charge. Devote 4 minutes to watching her explain her ideas to Harvard:

According to Anna Tavis, the requirements of today’s global market place has changed and the traditional success formula of education will no longer open up opportunities. It’s taken for granted that you are educated. But what else do you  have to offer?

Globalisation of talent

People looking for talent for global organisations are on the lookout for a different profile than in the past, she says and adds that they now recruit all over the world as opposed to only in the country their head office is located in. The same holds true for finding the next generation of leaders.

Will headhunters looking for global assets find you?

Will headhunters looking for global assets find you?

Head offices a thing of the past?

Speaking the local language and thoroughly understanding the culture of the market you work with is essential, if you wish to succeed in business around the world. And because of time differences the next generation of leaders will be spread around the world, as opposed to all working out of the head office.

This will initially put a lot of pressure on people in the head office. But there is no longer a need to have the entire top management in one location. We can work from anywhere in the world and provide the same kind of service, expertise and knowledge, with the added benefit of understanding the culture we work in, speak the language and  hence be better able to negotiate and succeed in business.

What do you think? Is she right that education is taken for granted and it’s your global experience that counts nowadays? Or do you believe it’s possible to understand how people on the other side of the world think, what drives and motivates them through education only? To what extent can you understand a culture you haven’t integrated in? Will having one head office gradually become a thing of the past? Is talent globalised? Will top management be spread around the world instead of in a head office? Are you better able to succeed in a country where you understand the culture? Or maybe you disagree with her and believe that the traditional reciepe for success i.e. education still holds? Or do you agree with her ideas and, if you are not already a global asset, will strive to become one?

Video: HarvardBusiness – You Tube

Are successful leaders lucky?

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

The Warren Buffetts and Bill Gates of this world are often described as just lucky. But is that really the secret behind their success?Watch Morten Hansen, management professor at UC Berkeley and Insead, describe the charachteristics of leaders that make their organisations thrive in times of chaos and uncertainty:

Hansen studied high performing leaders and what he found goes against what we commonly believe about successful leadership.

Bold & visionary leaders a thing of the past?

That’s the case according to Hansen. He brings up people like Bill Gates as prime examples of great leaders. Apparently Gates had no vision at all, in fact he was often wrong in his predictions.

Outstanding leaders instead create a future for their empirical trials. If the trials work out according to plan, they invest in the new idea. In other words, leadership is not about big bets but safe bets. Buffett is a prime example of such a leader which has led to an abundance of investors making fun of him and saying he had lost it.

We all have good & bad luck

Good and bad events happen to all people and in all organisations. They are out of your control and not expected. Good or bad luck is another way of describing it.

When comparing companies that are successful with companies that are not, Hansen’s study found that they had more or less the same amount of good and bad luck happening to them. So he concluded that success had nothing to do with luck.

Did luck make Warren Buffett a billionaire?

Did luck really make Warren Buffett a billionaire?

If not luck, then what?

What the study found was that the well performing leaders and companies had a higher return on the good luck they got because they seized the moment.

So how do you get higher return?

Successful leaders are prepared for bad luck, i.e. make sure that if worst comes to worst they know what to do.

They are prepared to seize the moment when good luck strikes. Bill Gates is a good example of that when he was still at Harvard but realised he couldn’t finish his studies because he had to seize the moment when it came to personal computers.

And the third point is to execute brilliantly when you have good luck. That’s how you get a higher return on luck.

Do you agree with Morten Hansen that luck has nothing to do with success? Are we great by choice? Should we, like Bill Gates, have nightmare memos to be prepared for the worst that can happen? Are you one hundred percent committed and focused on succeeding with what you are doing? Are you creative in an empirical way i.e. don’t make one big investment into a new area but spend years trying out a new concept and only when it shows that it’s a great idea do you take the risk of moving into that area. Do you seize the moment when good luck strikes? If so, according to Morten Hanson you are a great leader and not an average one.

Video: HarvardBusiness – You Tube – Photo: Aaron Friedman

Do you drive leadership through ambidexterity?

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Get the flexibility to take initiatives, innovate at all levels and at the same time thrive at what you are already good at. Sounds too good to be true? Bruce Harreld, Faculty Chair at Harvard is all for that way of operating. He will tell you why in this really short video:

Simply put it’s not enough to look at what you are already good at and ignore potential new areas. Ambidextrous individuals hence drive leadership and take initiatives beyond the confines of their job.

When companies are ambidextrous they are able to adapt to new opportunities and at the same time have alignment around their existing activities. And, this is crucial, they allow leadership to emerge from all levels in the organisation.

Common sense – but frequently ignored

The economic crisis has had a positive impact on ambidexterity. More companies, and people, understand that they have to think outside the box. Just throwing resources at problems is being replaced by a leaner more staged way of problem solving. Lack of resources actually increase creativity and people become more innovative. Provided they are allow to.

Ambidextrous people drive new initiatives

Some scholars as well as practitioners argue that many established companies simply lack the flexibility to explore new territories. And that’s where having ambidexterity come in.

Have never understood why, but companies, and people for that matter, get so stuck in their ways they don’t see the wood for the trees. Thinking outside the box is essential and it’s interesting to note that a top university like Harvard feel there is a need to give courses in how to do so. If you are an innovative person that will not be necessary, but there is obviously a demand from people who need to broaden their horizons. Harvard’s target group for the course may actually be leaders that cannot delegate? Having spent too long in a hierarchical system such leaders probably find it hard to accept leadership driven from all levels in the organisation?

Are you ambidextrous? Do you agree with Bruce Herrald, and me, that it’s propitious to have ambidextrous strategies? Is ambidexterity the way you and your organisation develop? Have you found that lack of resources makes you more creative? Does it give you flexibility and make you look into new areas you would otherwise have overlooked? Are ambidextrous people and organisations smarter? If you haven’t already, are you building an ambidextrous organisation that allows for initiatives, stimulate individuals to stretch themselves and drive leadership? Or maybe you are turning yourself into an ambidextrous person by driving new initiatives as well as your existing activities? Do you agree that in an increasingly global market ambidexterity is the way forward?

Video: HBSExecEd – YouTube

How do you respond to risks?

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

The majority of people either panic or ignore the possibility that a crisis is developing. But that needs to change, unless we want doomsday scenarios to manifest in the future. Watch this really interesting short video with David J. Ellwood, Dean of Harvard Kennedy School of Government, talking to The World Economic Forum about redesigning risk response:

Why do we see a crisis coming, sometimes even have the solution, but as human beings, or nations, seem unable to do anything about it? Why don’t we act but opt for worrying or ignoring the issues? By doing so, these crises could develop into catastrophes.

One reason is that we are short-sighted and blame others. Another is how businesses react if they know that they will be asked to make a sacrifice to sort out the problem. They then  swiftly come up with statements such as “science isn’t very clear..” Recognize it?

But sometimes we act in time and solve problems. The hole in the ozone layer is an example.  The picture of the hole made the problem visible and US multinational DuPont came up with an incentive to work with governments and NGOs to find solutions.

How do you create leaders that respond to risks by finding solutions?

Leaders have to react in time and be able to ignore their aversion to acknowledging danger.

A lot of young people all over the world are keen to step up to the plate. But it’s expensive to learn and they don’t earn very much once they have graduated. So we need to find ways to make it worth their while.

They need to know about incentives, markets, risks and politics. And not to forget, public management. So, apart from studying, they also need to get out and deal with real problems. An understanding of the economics and politics of different issues facing us is crucial. Ellwood put it the following way, “The frontiers of education gives us the opportunity to get to the frontier of the acting in time problem”, and added, “if we can train both existing leaders and people who aspire to become leaders to take on the really hard future challenges with the tools to do so, we can meet and avoid the future crises we see coming but are not acting upon today”.

Is Ellwood right that we need to develop a new kind of leader that knows how to respond? Do you agree that panicking or ignoring crises have to stop? That leaders need to learn to deal with the problems we know we will face? Is it time to start thinking long-term and stop closing our eyes to what will develop into a crisis if we ignore it? 

Video: World Economic Forum – You Tube

Are you a disruptive innovator?

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

If you are a start-up challenging an industry giant, that’s the way to succeed. Watch this short video outlining Harvard Professor Clay Christensen’s landmark theory:

The video speaks for itself. Or as one commenter put it: “Fantastic HBR explanation on the strategies that small companies use to disrupt larger companies. For large companies to fight back, they need to treat new initiatives as mini start-ups.”

Do you ask yourself what jobs customers need done? Are you segmenting customers by what they want done and not by size, products or demographics? Have you thought about developing basic low-cost solutions?  Do you agree with Professor Christensen that disruptive innovation create new markets and re-shape existing ones? Is this the best way to create growth for a start-up with giant competitors?

Video: Harvard Business Review – You Tube

How do you make your strategy succeed?

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Complicated strategies often fail. Watch this short video with Donald Sull, London Business School professor, telling Harvard how by asking three questions you can break down complex strategies into simple steps that make a difference:

Strategies are important. But sometimes even great strategies have absolutely no impact on an organisation. And unfortunately the problem is often the strategy itself. It’s too complicated and has to be simplified.

Can you remember the strategy?

If not, how can it make a difference? To be remembered a strategy has to be understood. And for that to happen, it has to be simple. Any strategy that’s too complicated to execute will fail. So how can you distill a thick and complicated strategy document down to its simple essence to be understood, remembered and acted upon?

First it’s important to note that Sull’s definition of strategy is how firms create, capture and sustain economic value i.e. what the customer is willing to pay and the cost of producing your product/service.

So how do you significantly increase how much customers are willing to pay?  Or cut costs? “In most organisations it’s just a couple of things that have an impact on those two aspects”, says Donald Sull.

Donald Sull’s three questions 

  • What are your company’s key drivers?
  • What are your critical challenges?
  • Have you identified your must-win battles?

Just focus on the main issues since if you create a laundry list simplicity will go out the window. And do look at both internal and external drivers, challenges and must-win battles.

If as a management team you can take your complicated strategy and simplify it by focusing on value creation, critical challenges and must win battles you will, according to Donald Sull, bridge the gap between strategic insight and effective execution.

Do you agree with Donald Sull that simplifying your strategies make them more effective? Are you also of the opinion that complicated strategies don’t work? Do you agree with him that by asking the three questions he outlines a company is able to come up with a strategy that works? How do you simplify your strategies? Or, to put it in another way, how do you create strategies that work? Maybe complicated strategies have worked for you?

Video: Harvard Business Review – You Tube

What makes you follow a leader?

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

Lately we have witnessed some terrible leadership. Can’t help wondering why some of the worst leaders get followers? Maybe Gareth Jones, London Business School fellow, has the answer? Watch this short Harvard video with him outlining what gives leaders loyal followers:

The current lack of fait in leaders is lamentable. Gareth Jones is absolutely right when he states that “if we lose faith in our political and economic institutions, we are in deep trouble”, and adds that we need great performance from our leaders.

Effective leadership excite people to exceptional performance

His definition applies not only to businesses, but politics, schools, hospitals and all other areas of life.

Leadership has been studied for about 150 years, and according to Gareth Jones, mainly asked the wrong questions. It’s hence presumed that people who make it to the top are leaders.

So one thousand people were asked what they want from a leader alternatively what do the people they aspire to lead want from them as leaders. The result was the following four aspects:

  • Community
  • Authenticity – a real person they can trust
  • Significance – that their leader appreciates the contribution they make
  • Excitement

In other words, an effective leader should be an authentic, skillful role performer with the capacity to transform organisations and enrich lives. That kind of leader get followers, according to the study.

Do you agree with the result that community, authenticity, significance and excitement is what makes you follow a leader? If you are a leader, are those characteristics what makes people follow you? Or do you disagree with the results of the study? Are you of the opinion that we need to restore trust in leaders and leadership? Would it make a difference if they displayed the characteristics outlined? Or maybe you have a different opinion of what makes people follow a leader? And how would you restore trust in leaders?

Video: Harvard Business Review – You Tube