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More People Work in Large Companies than Ever Before
Cost-cutting isn’t curbing bureaucracy. [...]
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Timeless Advice for Making a Hard Choice
Laura Schneider for HBR The more responsibility you take on at work and in life, the more often you face gray-area problems. These are situations where usually you have done a lot of hard work, on your own and often with other people, to understand a problem or a situation. You’ve assembled all the data, information, and expert advice you can reasonably get. You’ve analyzed everything carefully. But critical facts are still missing, and people you know and trust disagree about what to do. And, in your own mind, you keep going back and forth about what is really going on and [...]
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Using Data to Strengthen Your Connections to Customers
Marion Barraud for HBR Customer insight, segmentation, and behavior tracking have proliferated in recent years. But their impact on sales has been underwhelming, primarily because they ignore the needs of one key constituent: the frontline employee working to make the best possible marketing decisions day by day. Across industries, staff such as retail category managers, sales representatives, financial advisers, and wealth managers are awash with reports and insights that comfort their companies’ top executives and by making them feel that they are leading a “customer-cent [...]
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How the Big Data Explosion Has Changed Decision Making
Organizations I work with increasingly struggle to straddle two painfully polarizing operating principles. On the one hand, they desperately seek greater agility; on the other, they genuinely want to include all the right stakeholders in their processes. This conflict uncomfortably transcends traditional “centralization/decentralization” debates. Customers and clients demand greater agility, and employees and partners expect greater empowerment. So the companies push hard to provide both. Including more people, alas, typically increases coordination costs and response times. B [...]
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How to Know Whether You’re Giving Your Team Needless Work
Is your work time taken up by mandatory tasks that have no discernable value? (Consider the iconic “TPS report,” from the cult film Office Space, an ostensibly useless administrative report whose form is far more important to the boss than its content.) Or does your boss ask you to do things that fall outside of the bounds of professional expectations for your role? Barbara, an investment analyst, recalls the insult and awkwardness of being asked to serve coffee to a group of bankers right before presenting the analysis supporting a corporate acquisition. When you’re forced t [...]
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Recognizing the Role of Emotional Labor in the On-Demand Economy
If you’ve taken an Uber recently, perhaps you’ve noticed a sign in the car: “Please rate me five stars.” It might have pointed to the perks (gum, water, chargers) that the driver offered you and thanked you politely for your business. Signs like these might seem innocuous, but they point to a growing problem with businesses in the on-demand economy of app-based services like Uber, Airbnb, and TaskRabbit. These companies rely on customer ratings systems that often require workers to maintain near-perfect reviews. If an Uber driver falls below a certain point (often 4.6 o [...]
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What ‘The Art of the Deal’ Reveals About Leadership Fairy Tales
2016 might be the year we recognized the impact of an often-derided literary genre: leadership self-help. It dawned on me on a recent visit to the University of Pennsylvania’s bookstore, where an alumnus’s book rested between newer releases on the prime real estate of the best-seller table: Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal. The author — or, more precisely, the protagonist — stared proudly from the cover. “Trump makes one believe for a moment in the American dream again,” read a quote from the book’s New York Times review. I wonder if the T [...]
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The Forecasting Sweet Spot Between Micro and Macro
Forecasting is the third rail of business. Few companies are really good at it, and there can be big penalties for being wrong. In fact, a survey of more than 500 senior executives showed that only 1% of companies hit their financial forecast over three years, and only one out of five are within 5%. Overall, companies were off by 13%, which impacted shareholder value by 6%. Forecasting, as analytically challenging as it is, is a lot like politics, in that there are multiple agendas. Those responsible for delivering a revenue forecast typically want to lower it. Those seeking mor [...]
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What to Do When People Don’t Support Your Next Career Move
You’ve weighed the pros and cons and carefully assessed the impact. After in-depth consideration, you’ve decided to accept that new job, or launch your own business, or take time off to be with your children. You know it’s the right choice — but your boss, friends, and colleagues aren’t convinced. What should you do when people you respect disagree with your decisions? Consider their motivations. This is the time to get clarity about who has your best interests at heart, and who’s a frenemy with their own agenda. One college student who wrote to me [...]
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Overcoming the Fear of Being Heard
By Karly Nimmo. In my work with hundreds of podcasters, and potential podcasters (this also applies to bloggers, entrepreneurs, small business owners and anyone putting themselves out there) I see one key thing get in the way over and over again… Our good old mate, FEAR. Let’s talk about fear, because it has the capability to paralyse and stop the vast majority from ever leaving the discomfort of their comfort zone.  And, that seems such a shame.  I see so many amazing people, with incredible messages, products and services to share, who are stuck in fear. Fear shows up in a number of wa [...]
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Leadership May Not Be the Problem with Your Innovation Team
Last November we published an assessment on HBR.org to help readers diagnose the extent to which their organizations create conditions that favor successful innovation. About 1,500 people completed the assessment, representing organizations across industries at different stages of maturity. Despite enormous attention placed on improving innovation effectiveness, 80% of participants thought their companies were underperforming on this front. Unsurprisingly, those working for older, larger businesses scored lowest in all four innovation conditions: constant energy, creative friction, f [...]
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The Connection Between Speed and Charisma
Bill von Hippel, professor at the University of Queensland, on how the ability to think and respond quickly makes someone seem more charismatic. Download this podcast [...]
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