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This week’s must-reads for managing in a digital age: How not to frame a public offering, when humans don’t trust robots, the dark side of agile, and the most important skill an effective leader can have.
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Moving to a zero-trust network, where all the services an organization needs are hosted in the cloud, is the most secure IT option. Most network breaches are caused by human error: People forget their laptops in bathrooms and cabs, connect to insecure public Wi-Fi, click on emails they shouldn’t, and download attachments carrying malware. The only way to manage this threat is to dismantle the privileged intranet and treat every login as a potential threat.
The traditional “SMART” approach to goal setting may no longer offer companies the best path forward. In a continually changing competitive environment, companies should develop their goals in the context of current conditions.
Mature companies often lack the vision and the commitment to fully commit to new technologies — even when consumers are ready for them. This leads firms to develop watered down products with limited capabilities and leaves them exposed to upstart competitors.
At the same time that many traditional retailers are closing offline stores, digitally native vertical brands such as Bonobos and Warby Parker are aggressively expanding into offline locations. And both online and offline retailers are converging in experience-oriented “showrooms.”
Many executives take the value of best practices as a given. We have an abiding faith in the idea that the most direct route to improved performance is to study what successful firms do and copy them. In reality, that is quite rarely the case.
Leaders in a digital world have to navigate more complexity than ever before, where a problem that arises in one node of such network work can spread easily, with widespread adverse impact. But complexity-induced problems often have similar fundamental causes — and similar solutions. Leaders can ameliorate the effects of complexity by developing broader, not just deeper, perspectives; learning to think in terms of scenarios; and being clear about strategic intent.
Research shows that most organizations fall far short when it comes to strategic alignment. The authors’ analysis of 124 organizations revealed that only 28% of executives and middle managers responsible for executing strategy could list three of their company’s strategic priorities. How do leaders close this dangerous strategic-alignment gap?
For more than a century, economies of scale made the corporation an ideal engine of business. But now, a flurry of important new technologies, accelerated by artificial intelligence (AI), is turning economies of scale inside out. Business in the century ahead will be driven by economies of unscale, in which the traditional competitive advantages of size are turned on their head.
It’s possible that humankind has created complex, systemic problems that exceed our human capacity to solve them. Some companies, particularly the tech giants, are recognizing this possibility and looking to AI as a tool for solving environmental and social problems. One of these companies is Microsoft. In December 2017, it committed $50 million to its new “AI for Earth” program to fund innovators who are making progress in four critical areas — climate change, water, agriculture, and biodiversity.
Considering the increasing pace of technological change and volatility in many industries, the need for corporate transformation is rising. Unfortunately, the chance of successfully achieving it is falling.
Research indicates that the reason women aren’t making more rapid inroads on corporate boards is that few have reached the most influential board leadership positions. Although more women are on boards now than 10 years ago, very few have been promoted to a post that would give them influence beyond their seat at the table.
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