Leaders

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    Heavy industries may become the next frontier for the platform revolution

Heavy industries may become the next frontier for the platform revolution

Several sectors have already been disrupted by platforms: think of telecommunications, media and entertainment and more recently hospitality and mobility. From Uber to Airbnb, platforms appear the business model revolution of choice for the B2C and service industries.

Little wonder perhaps that if you talk to executives in B2B companies in heavy industries they tend to think that platform business […]

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    Cybersecurity is the defining business challenge of the 21st century

Cybersecurity is the defining business challenge of the 21st century

Speaking in 1941, a renowned businessman said “I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.” While John D Rockefeller was speaking at a time when the likes of drones, driverless cars and virtual reality were distant dreams and works of fiction – the central tenet of the quote is firmly applicable […]

Work 4.0: How Germany is shaping the future of work

How to shape the future of work

In November 2016, the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, headed by social democrat Andrea Nahles, published the white paper “Work 4.0”. It’s the result of an 18-month dialogue process mapping out the challenges for the world of labour and injecting policy proposals in the political debate. The dialogue involved a wide […]

Diversity is a fact; inclusion, a choice

An organisation’s competitiveness may depend on its ability to create an inclusive workplace that uses the talents of a diverse workforce. Yet many organisations struggle with this, despite research linking an ‘inclusive’ culture, where all talent feels valued regardless of gender, ethnic background or sexuality, to higher reported innovation and teamwork.

People who feel different from the dominant majority can […]

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    Strengthening private capital markets: less of the same is more

Strengthening private capital markets: less of the same is more

The financial market landscape has changed dramatically since the global financial crisis nine years ago. A key feature of today is the dominance of central banks in financial markets, especially in Europe. However, central bank activism has crowded out long-term investors (insurance companies, pension funds and sovereign wealth funds).

Not only do long-term investors hold assets worth about USD 70 trillion […]

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    The challenge for impact investing is management, not measurement

The challenge for impact investing is management, not measurement

It feels like we’re at an important point in the evolution of impact investing.  While the field has shown tremendous growth over the past few years, there are far more asset owners still sitting on the sidelines – interested in impact, but not yet investing. So why is it that – to quote the famous impact investor Bono – […]

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    What the South African anti-foreign riots say about the country’s economy

What the South African anti-foreign riots say about the country’s economy

As anti-immigration protesters take the streets of South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, it is instructive to look at the nation’s economy.

South Africa’s economic performance since the 2008/09 global recession is disturbing. The economy’s growth seems stunted, posting 1.3 per cent year-on-year change in 2015[1] and a more measly average of 0.8 per cent in the first three quarters of 2016[2]. Per capita income […]

Blockchain: Will it ever be as big as the buzz?

If we look at the Gartner’s “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies”, the rapid ascent to peak expectation, before the equally swift fall into the trough of disillusionment, for a lot of hot new technologies is hard and fast. But for blockchain, we are still teetering at the tipping point, as we have been for a while now, as the […]

We don’t need the alcohol industry for a strong economy

In 1850, the French economist Frederic Bastiat wrote the parable of a shopkeeper whose window is smashed. Aghast at the damage, the shopkeeper is consoled with the idea that at least his broken windows are good for the economy, since “Everybody must live, and what would become of the glaziers if panes of glass were never broken?”

The alcohol industry is, in […]

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    The big data revolution: embrace it but proceed with caution

The big data revolution: embrace it but proceed with caution

The combination of a number of amazing advances in technology (resulting in faster computer processor speeds, increased density and capability of computer storage, and higher bandwidth network connections) has opened up a new world for big data – the application of smart algorithms to large quantity and/or high velocity data.

Big data techniques enable us to infer patterns and preferences, […]

Don’t give up on Europe as an investment destination

“Europe is uninvestable,” a fund manager declares, while carving a slice of roast lamb over dinner in Mayfair, London. “With Marine Le Pen in France, Brexit and populists all over the place, we prefer to avoid any Eurozone risk.” The other fund managers in the room nod, in silence. The case for investing in Eurozone assets has never been […]

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    If NAFTA fails, Canada should reach across the Atlantic to the UK

If NAFTA fails, Canada should reach across the Atlantic to the UK

The future of the North American Free Trade Agreement is looking increasingly uncertain under Donald Trump as president of the United States. In case NAFTA implodes, Armand de Mestral proposes the creation of the Atlantic Free Trade Area between Canada and the United Kingdom, in a framework involving Europe and the US.

A close look at NAFTA

NAFTA has been in […]

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    Crowdscanning: The future of open innovation and artificial intelligence

Crowdscanning: The future of open innovation and artificial intelligence

Imagine a future where the CEO of a manufacturing firm turns to his Chief Innovation Officer and asks: “Bob, how can we innovate on our product and save 10 per cent of production cost to stay competitive against low-cost firms?” So far this seems to be a normal conversation that occurs daily across organisations around the world. Except that ‘Bob’ is really […]

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    Ghana won’t be able to fix its economy if it uses last decade’s rule book

Ghana won’t be able to fix its economy if it uses last decade’s rule book

Ghana’s 2008 general election remains one for the history books. The electorate voted out a government (the New Patriotic Party) that had presided over:

a decline in the number of the unemployed masses (averaging a 7.9 per cent year-on-year fall in the number of unemployed between 2001 and 2008);
a more stable monetary environment with a decline in annual […]

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    Tracking the pesky myths that blame women for the glass ceiling

Tracking the pesky myths that blame women for the glass ceiling

For too long myths about women in the workplace have reigned supreme; and they go something like this. Women aren’t ambitious and they don’t want the top job. Furthermore, women don’t help other women, and they (all women?!) lack confidence; and just need to negotiate.

It’s quite a damning list to label half of the world’s population with, especially when […]

The Chinese have transitioned directly to a mobile-only era

China’s middle class group is already the size of the US population and is expected to double within seven years. In addition to its large population size and significant disposable income, this new middle class is also characterised by its quick adoption of mobile applications in their everyday activities.

According to CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center) data, at the […]

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    Why are so few companies satisfied with their innovations’ results?

Why are so few companies satisfied with their innovations’ results?

What would happen if a CEO publicly declared that he is against innovation and would never invest a dime on it again? He would probably be fired right away, while the company’s stock plunged! Not to mention, his statement would be quoted in B-schools for decades as an example of business myopia or, in more mundane terms, idiocy. Why? […]

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    Debunking the investment myth that high risks yield high returns

Debunking the investment myth that high risks yield high returns

My wife is a surgeon, and her field of medicine has been transformed by the ‘evidence-based’ approach. Every pill she prescribes is extensively tested and empirically validated. You will agree that this makes sense, since it directly affects our physical health.

However, when it comes to our financial health we are not yet that advanced. When somebody makes a profitable […]

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    Multinationals in China: How ‘local’ should management go?

Multinationals in China: How ‘local’ should management go?

Any multinational seeking to build a strong base in China will inevitably confront the question of how ‘local’ an approach to adopt, particularly when it comes to management. Foreign firms active in Asia’s biggest market have pursued a wide variety of strategies, from flying in supervisors from head office for a transition period to train up local staff, to […]

Change starts with a leader’s ability to look inward

Most of us only embark on change if we can travel in ways that reinforce existing patterns. That’s the paradox. We seek a new what by comfortably using the same how.

In my work assisting leaders navigate large complex transition, I define change as the “disturbance of repeating patterns”. Unless leaders can pay as equal attention to the system-changing process […]