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Issue 07 August 2014
The Upside of Idleness
Heading into the summer holidays, executives should be aware that 'downtime' for the brain may allow new ideas to take shape. Examples abound of brilliant ideas that came to people while relaxing: from Newton in his garden to Paul McCartney composing “Yesterday” in his sleep. Unfortunately, today’s workplace offers little time for creative reflection, leaving executives prone to a herd mentality, according to leadership expert Kets de Vries. In Insead Knowledge he describes how doing nothing can be seen as a valuable opportunity for stimulating unconscious thought processes. At leisure we are “less constrained by conventional associations and more likely to generate novel ideas than when we consciously focus on problem solving”. Instead of succumbing to peer pressure to keep busy, notes de Vries, truly effective leaders strike a balance between action and introspection.
> Full story: Kets de Vries, “The Importance of Doing Nothing” in Insead Knowledge (June 23rd)
Corporate Social Responsibility Brings Bottom Line Benefits
Can Corporate Social Responsibility boost a global company’s bottom line? And can international corporations that do social good combat global poverty more lastingly than traditional foreign aid? This Fortune magazine article cites several examples of strong corporate leadership making a difference, as long as the philanthropic goals pursued are aligned with a company's core business. Projects that help poor people to realize their dreams - like mango farming in Kenya or setting up tiny recycling hubs in Mexico - by starting and owning their own small enterprises, can indeed trigger sustainable development. Successful corporate development initiatives usually partner with reputable NGOs, are deeply rooted in the company's overall strategy and closely monitored by its board. If implemented effectively, such initiatives can also buy companies “truckloads of brand loyalty”, the article concludes.
> Full story: Nina Easton, “As Foreign Aid Dries Up, Companies Take the Lead in Global Development”, in Fortune (July 24th)
To find out more about corporate sustainability and building a culture of purpose, read Christoph Lueneburger's article “Lessons from Chrysler: how to rev-up a purpose-driven corporate culture.”
High-Tech Branding Breeds the Chief Marketing Technologist
Claims that Chief Marketing Officers will spend more on technology than CIOs by 2017 become more credible every day. According to the Harvard Business Review, today's CEOs now cite digital marketing as the most important technology-powered investment for their corporations. At the core of this transformation a new role is developing: the Chief Marketing Technologist. CMTs set a technology vision for marketing. They are strategists, creative directors and technology leaders wrapped into one, who evaluate and align technology with business goals. The challenges of effectively managing this task are daunting: with 67% of CEOs planning to spend more on marketing high-tech, CMTs need to act as the interface between different constituencies. They liaise with four key stakeholders: the CMO and other senior marketing executives, the CIO and the IT organization, the broader marketing team, and outside software and service providers. The open-endedness of the CMT role highlights the need for executives with both marketing and technical savvy.
> Full story: Scott Brinker and Laura McLellan, “The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist” in Harvard Business Review (July-August)
For further insights into the CMO role, read Wan May Ang, Rory Finlay, Michael M. Meier and Dick Patton in “CMO Redefined”
Travel and Hospitality
Airline CEOs: Take Innovation to a Higher Level
Airline CEOs need to step up the pace of innovation, according to the '2014 Global Airline CEO Survey' by PwC. Rising profits and forecasts that the industry will triple in size over the next 20 years due to a growing middle class in developing countries are encouraging airline CEOs to invest in R&D, reports Fox Business. Previously, the sector showed only pockets of innovation, but growing demand should motivate airline CEOs to look at a wider range of new service and business models, suggests the survey. The aviation industry needs strong leaders who can harness technological advances to enhance the passenger experience, maximize plane capacity and optimize data management.
> Full story: Gabrielle Karol, “Airline CEOs Getting Ready for Technology Takeoff” in Fox Business (July 18th)
To consult the findings of a study on the competencies required by future aviation leaders, read Christoph Wahl and Kokkong Chan in “Flying Higher in Stormy Weather: Developing the New Leaders for Aviation Success”