Here is an excerpt from an artricle featured by the web site of BSchool.com, “a leading online resource for MBA information and resources”. If you are interested in continuing education and receiving your MBA, please browse our directory using the links to the resources available at this website.
Here are three of the ten destinations. To read the complete article, please click here.
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Posted on April 18th, 2011
Any student, no matter her or his major, should snap up any affordable opportunities to study abroad that present themselves. Such experiences infuse lessons with far more diverse perspectives than the ones touched upon in the classroom. Business classes especially benefit from a generous shot of multiculturalism — and one need not focus on international trade to get something out of it! When the urge to hop a plane and head overseas for some valuable lessons hits, look into programs at some of the following locations first.
Hong Kong, China: This Special Administrative Region is touted as one of the top financial centers in the world, and business students harboring a love of economics come here to see laissez-faire capitalism in action. It’s ranked 2nd on the Ease of Doing Business Index as well. Combined with its status as one of the world’s foremost centers for banking, finance and international commerce and trade, Hong Kong should be one of the top destinations for business students hoping to study abroad.
Singapore: Considered one of the four economic juggernauts of Asia, Singapore ranks first on the Ease of Doing Business Index. A largely trade-based economy, the city-state thrives mainly on exporting goods and retooling imports. Suffice to say, it boasts one of the world’s most active ports on top of being considered the fourth most prosperous financial centers anywhere. Business students hoping to enter into the chemical, petroleum, electronics, biomedical or mechanical engineering industries have plenty to explore here as well.
Taipei, Taiwan: Taiwan is considered another one of the “Asian Tigers” of business and commerce, with capital Taipei as its flourishing center. Even though the global economy is experiencing a downturn, the city boasts the 2nd -highest per-capita GDP in all of Asia and still expands at a rate of roughly 5% per year. Inflation and unemployment are both kept to a staggering minimum, too. Despite the popularity of textiles and electronics, business students with different goals can still easily walk away from a stint in Taipei with some great experiences and lessons under their belts.
Note: I recently re-read several books that were published a while ago, including this one. Kao asserts that America is losing its innovative edge in the global marketplace. “Innovation has become the new currency of global competition as one country after another races toward a new high ground where the capacity for innovation is viewed as a hallmark of national success.” Meanwhile, in the United States, “our national capacity for innovation is eroding, with deeply troubling implications for our future…In tomorrow’s world, even more than today’s, innovation will be the engine of progress. So unless we move to rectify this dismal situation, the United States cannot hope to remain a leader. What’s at stake is nothing less than the future prosperity and security of our nation…While our competitor nations focus on educating and training engineers and inventors, our schools are turning out youngsters who are better consumers than they are creators.”
What to do? Kao proposes that the United States become an “innovation nation” by making a major commitment of resources, both human and financial, to rejuvenate our innovation age. “And the obvious first step is simply to acknowledge the challenges we face at a national level. After which we must develop a compelling vision and a blueprint for action that will reinvent the way we educate our children, marshal our resources, pursue our research projects, communicate and share our discoveries, and conduct ourselves in the world community.”
After first identifying the “what,” Kao devotes the bulk of his attention to the “how” of achieving these and other objectives. He cites examples in the past when innovation in the U.S. unequalled (e.g. the Manhattan Project, Lockheed’s “Skunk Works,” and the U.S. space program’s “Project Apollo”) as well as examples of successful innovation initiatives in other countries, notably in China and India (of course) but also in Brazil, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan. Curiously, he does not mention Israel, selevted by BusinessWeek as the most innovative nation. There is indeed what Kao characterizes as “the new geography of innovation” in a world that Thomas Friedman describes as “flat.”
Kao examines the four principal driving factors behind this “global evolution,” noting that the globalization of innovation and of the capital to fund it “are, in my estimation, great positives overall for both the United States and the rest of the world. But the United States must begin ratcheting up its own innovation capacity to stay ahead of the curve.”
Kao proposes a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” for the U.S. (This is a term introduced by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in an article, Building Your Company’s Vision, published in Harvard Business Review, September-October 1996). Specifically, to establish twenty Innovation Hubs, each devoted to solving one “wicked” problem (e.g. climate change, environmental degradation, communicable diseases, energy sufficiency, water quality and sufficiency), with initial funding of at least $20 billion. One day, he hopes, “the catalytic nature of diversity and the power of innovation on a planetary basis will unleash the full potential of human beings to better themselves and to create a world well worth living in.”
Once again and to its great credit, McKinsey & Company has generously made available the results of another major global study it has conducted, in this instance one that involves moving more women to the top of organizations. Here is an excerpt.
To read the complete interview and (I hope) sign up for a free subscription to obtain email alerts and limited access to the McKinsey Quarterly and other valuable resources, please click here.
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A majority of executives believe gender diversity in leadership is linked to better financial performance, but companies take few actions to support women in the workforce.
As the number of women participating in the workforce grows, their potential influence on business is becoming ever more important. Seventy-two percent of respondents to a recent McKinsey survey believe there is a direct connection between a company’s gender diversity and its financial success. [Note: The online survey was in the field from August 31 to September 10, 2010, and received responses from 772 men and 1,042 women, representing the full range of regions, industries, tenures, and functional specialties.] Indeed, the share saying so has risen in the past year, even in the face of continued economic turmoil.
Yet companies have not so far successfully bridged the gap between men and women in the top levels of management. This is not surprising, since the survey shows that diversity isn’t a high priority at most companies and that there’s great variability in the number of gender-diversity policies that companies have pursued. For both of these factors, the results suggest that more is better: at companies where gender diversity is higher on the strategic agenda and more related policies are implemented, executives say that company leadership is also the most diverse. Among respondents at companies that include gender diversity as a top-three agenda item and those at all companies, there is a 32 percentage-point difference between the shares who say women fill more than 15 percent of their C-level positions.
The degree of support from CEOs and other top managers is another important factor influencing a company’s performance on diversity, respondents say, so it is notable that few companies’ top management teams currently monitor relevant programs. The differences executives report at the most diverse companies suggest some ways all companies can improve their gender diversity and, eventually, financial performance. [Note: McKinsey’s research on gender diversity and financial performance began in October 2007 with “Women matter: Gender diversity, a corporate performance driver.” In that study, we found that the 89 listed European companies (all with market capitalization of more than €150 million) with the highest levels of gender diversity also had higher returns on equity, operating results, and stock price growth than the averages in their respective sectors, from 2005 to 2007. Work from other organizations, such as the nonprofit organization Catalyst, also supports this view.]
Who thinks women matter?
Since last year’s survey, the share of respondents who believe there is a connection between diverse leadership teams and financial success increased 12 percentage points, to 72 percent. [Note: In this year’s Women Matter survey, the ratio of female to male respondents was much higher than it was in 2009. We have weighted the 2010 results in accordance with the gender ratio in the 2009 survey, enabling a meaningful comparison of responses year over year.] And though more women than men think so (85 percent, compared with 58 percent), it is notable that a majority of men agree.
By contrast, the share of respondents whose companies have gender diversity as a top-ten agenda item has held steady at 28 percent. There has, however, been some movement at the bottom: last year, 40 percent said it was not on their companies’ agenda at all, and this year that figure has fallen to 32 percent.
Where diversity is a higher priority, executives also report a higher share of women in their senior ranks. At companies where gender diversity is a top-three agenda item, for example, 87 percent of respondents report that more than 15 percent of their C-level executives are women [Note: The reverse is also true: at companies where respondents report that their midlevel, senior manager, and C-level ranks include more than 15 percent women, 19 percent say gender diversity is a top-three item on the strategic agenda; that figure falls to 8 percent at all organizations.]; only 64 percent of those whose companies rate diversity as a top-ten item, and 55 percent of all respondents, say the same.
There is also some geographic variability: respondents in Asia-Pacific and developing markets are more likely to say that gender diversity is a top-ten agenda item for their companies (35 percent and 34 percent, respectively) than those in other regions. [Note: Respondents in the Asia-Pacific region include executives working in the following locations: Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan.] In Latin America, just 21 percent of respondents say their companies’ agendas include gender diversity as a top-ten item, with 27 percent of those in Europe and 28 percent of those in North America also saying so.
Around the world, more than 80 percent of respondents say that since the financial crisis began, there has been no change in their companies’ view of gender diversity as a strategic issue, no matter what that view is; this figure seems at odds with the rise in the past year in the share of those who believe that companies with more women leaders perform better. Respondents in Asia-Pacific and developing markets are likelier to say gender diversity has become a more important strategic issue at their companies
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To read the complete interview and (I hope) sign up for a free subscription to obtain email alerts and limited access to the McKinsey Quarterly and other valuable resources, please click here.
About the Authors
Contributors to the development and analysis of this survey include Charlotte Werner, a consultant in McKinsey’s Paris office; Sandrine Devillard, a director in the Paris office; and Sandra Sancier-Sultan, a principal in the Paris office.
The contributors would like to thank Georges Desvaux, a director in the Paris office, for his extraordinary contributions to this work.
Here are a few of the awards he has received thus far: International Business Award Best Human Resources Executive of the Year, 2008. World Human Resources Development Award for Human Resources Leadership, 2009.
His formal education: Chicago Management Institute, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago, 2005; PhD, Measurement, Evaluation & Statistical Analysis; Education; University of Chicago, 1995; MA, History of Chinese Religions, University of Chicago, 1990; BA, Psychology, Honors College, Arizona State University, Phi Beta Kappa, Moeur Award (for 4.0 GPA), 1986.
Also: Global Senior Advisor, Asia-Pacific CEO Association; Worldwide Director, Performance Measurement, Accenture; Public Speaker (in English and Chinese) recently in Beijing, Cairo, Changchun, Kuala Lumpur, London, Mumbai, Nanjing, Nice & Singapore.
Q: What was your inspiration/motivation for writing this book, Lasting Contribution?
Nothing frustrates me more than wasted potential. I see many well-intentioned people in the world who are trying to do good work, but because they don’t understand economics, game theory, or statistics, they are not as effective as they could be. Since not everybody has the time or inclination to study all of these fields, I took an idea from the ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi who said, “The fish trap exists because of the fish. Once you’ve gotten the fish you can forget the trap.” My goal was to bring the insights from various fields of study to more people so they could be more effective in their well-intentioned pursuits.
Q: Given the thinking in your book, if you could solve just one of the world’s problems, what would it be?
Energy. Besides addressing global warming, clean and cheap energy would allow you to desalinate and move water, which would go a long way toward solving problems with food and population.
Q: You have expertise in China, hermeneutics, education, and statistics. How does all of this fit together?
My knowledge of China is focused on language, culture, and philosophy, which inevitably lead to Confucius. He asked: How do you make the world a better place? By making people better, and you do that through education. That’s two topics. The other two are variations on the theme of, “How do you know?” One is qualitative and the other quantitative, but we live not in a multi- or poly-verse, but rather a universe. This means that the qualitative and quantitative approaches must converge. If they don’t, then you haven’t done enough work.
To put all of this differently, if I were interested in making money—good old capital—then I’d invest, which would involve a qualitative assessment of the management team and a quantitative assessment of the fundamentals. I’m interested in human capital, so I conduct qualitative and quantitative assessments of how to improve it.
Q: What is your lasting contribution?
Confucius said that to leave a legacy, you should have kids (I have a son) or write, but Socrates said that to leave a legacy you should have kids, write, or (what does this tell you about the difference between China and the West?) do something that has an enduring impact on the world. According to Accenture’s Chief Learning Officer, my contribution has been “to fundamentally change the equation for how companies think about investing in their people.” I proved that the return on investment in training is very high. Gary Becker, Nobel laureate and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner said, “In terms of human capital, [Tad’s work] is exactly what American businesses most need to be doing.”
Q: How did you do that?
I analyzed 261,000 employee records of per-person margin (how much people brought in minus how much we paid them), controlled for experience, inflation, and business cycles, to show that for every dollar Accenture spent on training, it received $4.53 in return, which is a return on investment (ROI) of 353 percent.
There are several features of this work that I think are worth pointing out:
Since the analysis focused not on soft data (Did you enjoy your hospital stay?), but on hard data (Did you survive your hospital stay?) and since it used rigorous statistical techniques (multiple regression that accounted for various confounds), the results had a high degree of credibility, so high that the work won half a dozen awards and was turned into the book Return on Learning: Training for High Performance at Accenture.
The approach forces people to focus not on training activities—hours of training delivered, percentage of workforce trained, and so on—but on results, a focus that forces you to speak the language of the organization’s leaders—the language of results.
The analysis took into consideration all of the training that everybody experienced as well as all of the costs associated with the training, including opportunity costs. One point is that this makes for a conservative estimate of ROI. But the more important point is that the analysis looked at the big picture of how all of the courses interacted with each other to add value, thus avoiding the common mistake of trying to explain how a particular course increased a particular skill, which has a particular ROI. The analysis showed that, because individual courses interact with each other, the whole effect of training is greater than the sum of its parts.
How the Wise Decide: The Lessons of 21 Extraordinary Leaders
Beth Zeckhauser and Aaron Sandoski
Crown Business (2008)
Although quite different in terms of their personality, leadership style, and circumstances, what do the 21 share in common? Zeckhauser and Sandoski spent three years in search of the answer and concluded that all of them make their “tough calls” based six core decision-making principles. Here are two:
Go to the Source: “Making it a routine part of your job to go to the source will require a new mind-set, a realignment of your priorities and the tenacity to pursue firsthand information wherever it may take you. But if you become skilled at using this powerful tool as the three leaders you’re about to meet [i.e. Bill George, Mike Reuttgers, and Orin Smith], you can beat competitors, find new markets, and generate terrific new products.” Other leaders discussed include Paul Galvin (Motorola), John Whitehead (Goldman Sachs), and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer
Listen with Purpose: “Are you listening carefully? Then you’re missing the point. It isn’t how you listen, it’s why you listen that’s important.” Zeckhauser and Sandoski have identified three major purposes leaders have for listening. “The first is listening to gather information.” More specifically, listening “to fill in gaps in the information you already have…Finally, listen with the purpose of generating ownership.” That is, to ensure that the decision once made will be properly executed, first seek out and respect the opinions of others to reassure them that their input is valued. “A great decision that can’t or won’t be executed is no decision at all.” Leaders discussed in this chapter include Vernon Loucks (Baxter Healthcare), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, Bill Riley (World Wildlife Fund), and Rick Wagoner (General Motors).
I urge those who read this review not to be deterred by the fact that all of the 21 exemplary leaders whom Zeckhauser and Sandoski discuss are prominent. Together, it is true, they demonstrate the power and value of the six core decision-making principles but that is because they have mastered those principles and, in most cases, did so only after experiencing one or more of what Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas characterize as “crucibles” in their book, Geeks & Geezers. Centuries ago, metallurgists attempted to transform chemical compounds into gold. Their instrument was a crucible, a cup-shaped receptacle that they heated to very high temperatures. Most managers in today’s business world have already experienced – or will experience — personal tragedies, failures, disappointments, dysfunctional relationships, etc. Some managers emerge from these modern-day “crucibles” stronger, wiser, and better prepared to cope with whatever may await them. Other managers do not. Although Bryn Zeckhauser and Aaron Sandoski make no such claim, I think that mastery of the same six principles can help managers in any organization (whatever its size and nature may be) to avoid or at least emerge from crucible-like experiences. Better yet, they will help managers to become more fully developed human beings as well as more effective leaders.
My Best Innovation Advice? Be Promiscuous
Netflix now plans to replicate the contest approach, creating a $500,000 prize for a team that develops the best algorithm to turn demographic and behavioral data into a “taste profile.”
The seemingly low success rate of Netflix’s first contest — less than 0.2% of teams hit Netflix’s goal — carries a hidden lesson. If you are inside a company, and you have a single team working on a tough problem, what are the odds that you can beat the dozens or hundreds of groups working on related problems outside your company?
Many companies will tell me they just don’t have sufficient resources for innovation. My first reaction to this statement is to ask the company to carefully assess how it currently is allocating its results. Further investigation often highlights that a scarily high number of resources are working on “zombie projects” that really have no hopes of succeeding in any meaningful way. Reallocating those resources can dramatically increase a company’s innovation capacity.
The second recommendation is to do what Netflix did and find ways to spread the innovation load. This isn’t just about running contests. It is about involving customers in the innovation process in new ways; finding creative ways to collaborate with erstwhile competitors, and tapping into individual experts wherever they might be.
This isn’t a new idea — Hank Chesbrough, Don Tapscott, and others have written very eloquently about the power of more “open” forms of innovation — but it is even more important when times are tough and internal resources grow increasingly scarce.
Companies shouldn’t go to the extreme of outsourcing innovation. Complete outsourcing builds dependency and leads to internal innovation muscles atrophying. The very process of innovation — even unsuccessful efforts — can teach companies important lessons. And some tasks can really only be done by internal innovators. As always, balance is critical.
I believe in promiscuity when it comes to searching for new ideas. Look in every possible direction. You’ll be surprised by what you find.
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Anthony is the Managing Director of Innosight Ventures, a venture building and investing business with offices in Singapore, India, and the U.S. He has written three books on innovation: Seeing What’s Next: Using the Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change with Clayton Christensen, The Innovator’s Guide to Growth with Mark Johnson, Joe Sinfield, and Elizabeth Altman, and The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times. He has written articles in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Sloan Management Review, Advertising Age, Marketing Management, and Chief Executive, is a regular contributor to Harvard Business Online and serves as the editorial director of Strategy & Innovation.