Thought Pieces & Studies (3rd Party materials)

Being firm believers in the free dissemination of knowledge, the power of the 'open source' spirit and the exchange of expertise, we like to highlight, review and share great third party ideas for our actual and potential Clients' reflection and convenience.  

We often share a comment of our own ourselves in order to elicit possible additional discovery.  Please kindly find below some of our latest reviews :

Does your Board need an Executive Chair ?

A great reflection on Corporate Governance, again by Harvard Business Review.  Companies such as Amazon, Google, Ford, Iron Mountain have created a "Executive Chairman" - a Chairman of the Board that keeps executive responsibilities whilst having a CEO as well.  In the authors' study, this can be very beneficial to companies.  

In our own longstanding research and direct work on the matter, we have seen that in the US, the model has often been different, a "Chairman and CEO" unified into one single person.  Interestingly, this is similar to the French business tradition of the "President-Director General" ("le PDG").  

In the UK, and mostly in Switzerland, the model is split - usually a Non-Executive Chairman of the Board vs. a CEO -; good Corporate Governance seems to recommend separation of roles.  

Something similar happens with German dual Board structures - a CEO heading the Management Board, and a non-Executive Chairman the Supervisory Board.

Success of an Executive Chairman seems to be clear when there is a CEO succession, an "excessively" powerful CEO, or an Executive Chairman with exceptional strategic acumen.  Not so much, though, when there is a complex Board situation which requires 100% Chairman focus on oversight, or a complex company situation that needs unified CEO direction.

Having some experience with Executive Chairmen ourselves (they are not unheard of in Spain at all), we'd say care and rules of the game are needed - or else you can cause bicephaly, strategic clashes, or like the Retired Emperors of old Japan, just "puppet" CEOs with the real power behind the scenes.

Are the Risks of Global Supply Chains Starting to Outweigh the Rewards ?

➡️ 👉 Excellent article by Harvard Business Review : in our view, combined with the #futureofwork , companies will need to seriously reconsider their #organizationaldesign and internal people’s allocation of accountabilities to do #internationalbusiness.  💭 Do we centralize or decentralize operations ? To what extent and where ?

According to the article, major factors are: 🌐 #geography and #geopolitics , 🚆⛴🚚📦 #logistics , 🌈💨🌲#sustainability and 📈🤝 #suppliercollaboration .

✅💡👍🏼 Conclusion: “The new focus on resilience and sustainability is going to present managers with fresh choices and challenges as they reorient their production footprints to ones that will be more flexible and more regional”

We’d add: there will be (already are) revolutionary ways to manage #peopleandculture and employee/executive #totalrewards out of these changes.

Have we taken Agile too far ?

➡️ #agile and #scrum methodologies are great, no question about it. But this excellent article from #harvardbusinessreview makes you think a bit on their right uses 😃🛠💡.  🤔 Not all management techniques are created equal, or are always equally valid 👌 (mind you, we are agile-certified ourselves)

🎯 Even if the article mostly deals with #amazonbusiness style which is a school in itself, a point is driven home: 🚀🚀Agile may at times hide the organizational inability to rigorously plan in advance, and execute that plan 🚀🚀.

sprints, retrospectives, kanbans, burn-down charts, maybe Jira, your card games and niko-niko calendars... all of that is excellent. 🤝 But let’s remember: Agile is not necessarily always THE choice.  👉 Depending on project type, industry, company size / complexity, etc., you may fare off better with your TQM, EFQM, Lean Six Sigma, PMP and many others - or even good ol’ common sense 🤹‍♂️📊📈.

What makes a successful startup team

️ A well explained example on Harvard Business Review of a startup management team with apparently all qualifications.... that fails 📉. Classic lack of shared vision and effective internal communication in this specific case.

👉 What we would add 👍🏼, is that mere qualitative observation by experienced investors 💰 may detect issues - but it is much better to do it more formally and objectively, and have an expert interpret results.

✅ Each startup or company is a whole world that can be improved with targeted analysis 🎯  Causes for misalignment may differ across them.

Stop hiring for Culture Fit

Insights by Patty McCord, former Chief Talent Officer of Netflix 👍🏼 valid for all companies, but startups may want to hear. Among other ideas, she says “many people consider ‘culture fit’ as someone you would like to have a beer with” - which may be a dangerous way to generate an organizational culture 🤔.

Whilst it is true that people need to be liked by the existing teams, or at least accepted with no hostility, excessive “cultural fit” may lead to indifferentiation, a lack of diversity, and missing out on needed fresh, new ideas 💡✨. People profiles are different: often, you need a blend of rationals, emotionals, risk takers, risk avoiders, changers, preservers, creators, maintainers, etc. The key is to lead them well !!

CEOs giving up Remuneration during Covid-19

Generally in agreement with what the Wharton professor says in this article 👍🏼: voluntary or quasi-voluntary Executive Pay cuts are not going to save companies, but will be welcome by employees, investors, proxy advisors, business communities and general public opinion. We would add it could be a matter of integrity, leadership by example, and renewing trust in the business - specially in lay-offs.

However, if Executive Pay cuts are decided, they have to be done with care and expertise (like ours').  Automatic built-in adjustments, specially in stock-based Rewards, may not work. This requires finesse.

Toyota acting seriously on Blockchain

Excellent article describing what Toyota is doing: Identity 🏅🔏, Vehicle data 🚗🖥. , Supply chain and parts ⚙️🛠, Value digitization 💻💵.  In addition: Woven (smart) City, renewable power storage, BC corporate bond financing. Partners such as tech startups, dealers, insurers, suppliers, Tokio Uni, etc.

Seems that many things will be done. Article does not discuss investment levels or specs on blockchain tech, but surely both will be relevant. We’ll see how this model does vs. other, different ones; for example, Daimler-BMW’s Reach/Free/Charge/Park/Share Now.

Here's what might save us from cyberterrorists, biohackers, and sentient robots

Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, etc. warn about the dangers of  our losing control of faster and faster technologies.  But Peter Diamandis, founder of Singularity University, suggests that with Vision, Governance, and Prevention, all will be good. 

Netherlands' adaptability against the sea, Estonia as example of e-government, AI hunting rogue AIs, etc. are shining cases in point.  Yet, we can't help to feel that, in some aspects, the jury is out. There is a weapons race in cybersecurity. Some AI algorithms are not grasped by the engineers.   And bio research is not fully controlled everywhere.  At company level, digital transformation will require good old classic intelligence and external ideas, true leadership AND integrity for resilient organizations.

Goldman Sachs: at least 1 woman on the Board or you won't go IPO with us

Backed by strong recent earnings and what is probably more, a conviction, GS's CEO (and a former DJ) has clear ideas on what the bank should be supporting, and sets a path for other investors.

It is a proven fact that Boards with women and diverse members outperform their peers. Unfortunately, adoption may be slow in some countries, or less advanced companies.  We would formulate two questions, though: 1) How to get Board talent effectively, wisely discriminating among many ‘women director’ trainings and coaching offers we see these days. 2) What rewards we will use 🏆💰 to ensure the diverse Board talent consolidation and ongoing functioning.

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain 2010-2020: a chronicle

Several MIT professors claim that BC will be the new technology stack that comes over Internet 👍🏼. Whilst considerably widespread already, digital currencies are just the beginning 🌄:  keys will be 1) identity validation, 2) creation and exchange of value / assets, 3) transaction disintermediation and automation.

This will require more standards and tech evolution, but as a consequence, any industry can be profoundly transformed - by automating and changing 1) any company’s definition of products and clients and 2) the whole relationships' structure inside and around such company, and eventually parts of the society itself.

"Quantum supremacy" seems to have been achieved - what is it ?

Seen from outside: 1) QC is probably the future, but as of today, it is restricted to extremely specific challenges; 2) still, those challenges open doors to understanding how QC exactly works; 3) 'easier’/first case uses will possibly be quantum physics calcs, cybersecurity, and molecule study; 4) QC has errors and its physical support (superconductors) is extremely delicate.

But Google’s achievement seems real: 200 secs. vs. allegedly 2.5 days for others, is significant. And that is with 52 qubits - when that is 70, you’d need a city-sized classical computer to match (note: publisher seemed to have inside info).

Hyper-efficient Quantum computing algorithm proven - and found in nature

The Grover algorithm, via quantum calculations, made possible in a ‘n’ items’ database, solve any search in ‘square root of n’ steps, instead of ‘n’ (it can happen the data you need, is the last of the list). This was a revolution already, and a large source of efficiency for any data finding.

The 90s’ algorithm could not be fully checked until 2017, with the advent of truly scalable quantum computers. And now: researchers prove Nature finds paths according to the algorithm ! (ie electrons finding gaps in a crystalline substance). This could be used as a quantum computer itself ! Years before a researcher from Bangalore suggested the same algorithm is present in DNA processes as well.

Learn about AI-powered robotic process automation

An excellent, simple example of what a ‘normal’ company is doing regarding thousands of data points distributed across .pdfs by adequately deploying AI.

They are using a couple of market-recognized tools; there are others that can be selected. What matters here is that insights are being generated and time is saved for other, more important purposes; in this example, to better invoice customers and obtain better conclusions on them.

The Terrifying Potential of the 5G Network

An excellent introductory level text on what 5G is and what it implies. ‘Terrifying’, the Newyorker says. But at the same time, they recognize the huge potential, maybe even society-changing, of the technology.

Understanding and getting prepared is imperative, anyway. Also is explaining to the people in lay terms the implications of 5G; even at the level of what a radio wave is.

Huawei is at the centre of political controversy

5G. The promise is huge. Downloading full TV series in seconds. Being able to operate a human heart at the other side of the planet.  True development of IoT. Revolution in databases. Holograms to communicate. Company transformations. Billions will have to be invested by governments and industry to develop the new antennae and related network support, and technical and organizational advisory will be needed, so big business times ahead expected.

Yet - the Economist focuses on the geopolitical aspects of the technology, its code quality, and its security. Will 5G go ahead ? Possibly yes but the jury is still out, with the existing US, Google and Qualcomm reluctance.

Look inside the new $1.3 billion complex at Singapore's Changi Airport, with a 130-foot indoor waterfall

This is what countries with a clear, unwavering pursuit of economic prosperity do (at least, if you expect 50 or 60 million users in the first year). Who said the aviation industry is in crisis ? Well it depends, as we can see... Amazing. Watch the part in which the waterfall gets illuminated at night. Or the rooftop swimming pool. Or the cinemas 24x7.

How Debenhams collapsed from record profits to bankruptcy in 7 years

And then, by mostly sticking to their own traditional business, another retail company falls victim to the digitization wave that is sweeping the industry - in just seven years.  In this example, we are talking about the venerable and otherwise well reputed Debenhams.

BMW and Daimler will spend over $1 billion on the future of transportation

Remarkable, in our opinion - did anyone think they just would sit idly by whilst the future zooms past their faces ? Will they just succumb to Uber and do nothing ?  We think not - evolution towards becoming platforms is under way and the auto industry is bound to be reinvented.

Any opinions or conclusions ? Kindly reach out !

I want to learn more !