During the 2003 World Athletics Championships’ final, the French women’s team won the 4x100m relay race. Yet, facing them, the American team gathered the fastest runners in the world. How to explain this apparently paradoxical result?
This French team performance stems from a better cooperation: each athlete was ready to set aside part of her energy geared at her individual performance to guarantee a better efficiency during the baton exchange, for example by shouting to indicate her precise position to her partner and to communicate her energy to her. To encourage such a state of mind in companies, we must be ready to review some organizational “best practices” that hamper cooperation. For example, it seems rational to precisely document the roles, to clarify the scopes of action and to measure the performance according to these well-defined scopes. Yet, in such a situation, what is the interest for the individuals to collaborate with their teammates or other departments? What do they gain by getting out of their scopes to help colleagues?
What is gained in clarity and rationalization is often quickly lost in smoothness. To remedy this, ask yourself the question: do all the job descriptions, all the processes and all the key performance indicators put in place encourage individuals to collaborate, or do they create obstacles and conflicts of interest?
Source: How too many rules at work keep you from getting things done, Yves Morieux, TED@BCG London, September 2015.
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In their race for growth, most companies focus their efforts on the conquest of new customers. But do they already do all they can to retain their existing customers? The question might seem banal. Yet, a study by McKinsey reminds us that, to compensate for the loss of an existing customer, it can prove necessary to acquire up to three new ones. Thus, 80% of the value generated by the largest companies stems from their capacity to regularly and proactively renew the quality of their existing customers’ experience. Thus, do you actively listen to your customers on an everyday basis? Do your performance indicators and objectives sufficiently focus attention on the continuous improvement of the customer experience? This could well be the next growth lever—a lever that, in hypercompetitive markets, can prove much more effective that the acquisition of an ever-increasing number of new customers.
Source: Experience-led growth: A new way to create value, Victoria Bough, Oliver Ehrlich, Harald Fanderl, Robert Schiff, McKinsey Quarterly, March 2023.
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The global economic growth will essentially be driven by new technologies in the coming years, in particular by the innovations relating to artificial intelligence. Yet, seizing the AI opportunities entails much more than betting on the best technology.
Companies that present the best growth potential even consider that the technological aspect only represents a minor part of the challenge. According to a study conducted by the Boston Consulting group in 2022 among 700 business leaders from all sectors of activity in 47 countries, the companies best equipped to reap the benefits of the innovations brought by AI follow the “10-20-70” rule. Only 10% of their efforts are invested in the design of their AI model; 20% are dedicated to the collection of quality data; and the remaining 70% focus on the organization and the people. These companies primarily aim at attracting and retaining the best talents, at training their employees to obtain the right mix of competences, at anchoring a culture of innovation and at making their internal processes more agile and collaborative.
An analysis that invites to put some perspective on your investments: does their actual distribution enable the reinforcement of the company’s capacities to reap the benefits of the ongoing technological disruptions?
Source: The New Blueprint for Corporate Performance, Amanda Luther, Romain de Laubier, Saibal Chakraborty, Dylan Bolden, Sylvain Duranton, Tauseef Charanya, Patrick Forth, BCG, April 2023.
How can you develop a constructive relationship with your direct superior? An essential point consists in knowing when to solicit them so that they can bring their added value at the right time. Indeed, when entrusted with an assignment by our N+1, our reaction is often to try and progress alone as far as possible, to deliver an accomplished deliverable. By doing so, we run the risk of being disappointed. Instead of bringing the so hoped-for validation, it is common that the superior embarks on a hunt for details or suggests other ways of addressing the project, to the greatest frustration of both parties.
To minimize this risk, it is more valuable to seek the contribution of your N+1 throughout the course of the project. Delegating an assignment does not mean that we don’t want to hear about it! Solicit your superior regularly, at key moments, to further your thinking: at the beginning, reformulate the challenges and ensure that your boss is in tune with you; present your different scenarios to check that they are coherent with the strategic priorities; ask for rapid feedback on a report structure before finalizing it in detail. This regular exchange dynamic will enable you to better understand each other and to avoid many frustrations.
Source: Designing Jobs Right, Roger L. Martin, Harvard Business Review, January-February 2023.
Numbers often occupy a central place in presentations. Plots, pies and histograms fill slides to convince, mobilize, alert. But how to make sure that they actually produce the expected impact?
The usual practice consists in displaying all the numbers available to give the audience a global view of the situation, then to attract attention on such disbalance between columns or such evolution, whether positive or negative. Yet, laying out all our cards at the outset is counterproductive. Expert in communication Nancy Duarte recommends seeking inspiration from storytelling and provoking an emotional reaction that will more durably impact the audience. You can thus create some suspense by only displaying the first elements of your diagram, to then unveil progressively the other data by telling a story, like a narrator. For example, invite the audience to guess the evolution of a curve before letting the final result appear. The narrative tension thus created will facilitate the assimilation of the figures that are presented.
Source: The Simple Power of the Slow Reveal, Nancy Duarte, MIT Sloan Management Review, March 2023.